Physics Colloquium: Jason Barnes, Department of Physics, University of Idaho

Monday, January 23 2012 at 4:00 PM

Location: EP 209

The physics colloquium, presented by Jason Barnes, department of physics, University of Idaho, entitled "The Crazily-Tilted Orbit of Extrasolar Planet KOI-13.01," will occur an. 23 at 4 p.m. in EP 209.

Abstract: All of the planets in our solar system orbit in nearly the same plane. Their mutual inclinations are of order a few degrees, and that plane matches that of the solar equator to within 6 degrees. This regularity helped drive the development of our current understanding of planet formation as resulting from a protoplanetary disk. In 2009 I showed that if a star rotates fast enough, we can use its transit lightcurve from Kepler to measure the angle between the planet's orbit and the star's equator -- the planet's spin-orbit alignment. Those predictions have
recently borne fruit with the discovery of extrasolar planet KOI-13.01. Using this planet's `gravity-darkened' asymmetric transit lightcurve, I was able to measure the spin-orbit alignment. I found that this planet's orbit is canted at a 54 degree angle! I will discuss the possible mechanisms for how this misalignment might have occurred, and what the resulting implications are for the process of planet formation and evolution.