Name/Affiliation: Brendan Bowler (Caltech)
The Outer Architecture of M Dwarf Planetary Systems
High-contrast imaging is a powerful tool to probe the outer architecture of planetary systems and directly study the atmospheres of extrasolar giant planets. Previous imaging surveys have primarily focused on intermediate- and high-mass stars, revealing a handful of self-luminous planets. Yet M dwarfs have largely been neglected despite having more favorable planet-star contrasts and representing about 75% of all stars. As a result, little is known about the population of gas-giants at moderate separations (10-100 AU) in this stellar mass regime. In this talk I will describe the results of the Planets Around Low-Mass Stars (PALMS) high-contrast adaptive optics imaging survey targeting newly identified nearby (<35 pc) young (<300 Myr) M dwarfs with Keck II/NIRC2 and Subaru/HiCIAO. With a sample size of over 120 young M dwarfs, PALMS is the largest direct imaging planet search in this stellar mass regime. I will present the discoveries and statistical results and discuss their implications for the formation of gas-giant planets around the most common stars in our galaxy.