Webster Cash, Department of Astrophysical and Planetary Scienes (APS), University of Colorado Boulder
Struggling with the mathematics of diffraction and the search for life in the universe
Our best hope of finding evidence of life in the Universe is to study the Earth-like planets around nearby stars. Spectra can show the byproducts of life (like Oxygen) in the atmosphere of these “Sister Earths”. But we cannot see these planets because they huddle close to their parent star and are lost in the glare. Here at CU we have been working on External Occulters wherein a large “starshade” is flown on a seperate spacecraft into the line of sight to a star. If diffraction around the shade is properly controlled, then the planets can be directly detected and studied. We have recently found a new apodization function that allows much better control of the diffraction. I will explain all this in the colloquium and introduce the mathematics that has enabled the technology.
Main Campus - Engineering Classroom Wing (View Map)
1111 Engineering DR
Name: Ian Cunningham