Speaker Name(s): Ray Jayawardhana, B.S., Ph.D. Description: Ray Jayawardhana, B.S., Ph.D.
Department of Astronomy & Astro physics, University of Toronto
Until recently, we knew of only one planetary system, our own. During the past decade, astronomers have detected nearly 150 planets around other Sun-like stars, ending centuries of speculation. Over the same period, they have also discovered hundreds more of so called "brown dwarfs", which are too puny to light up as stars but which do not fit the traditional definition of planets either. Intriguingly, some brown dwarfs themselves may harbor planetary companions around them. The apparent ubiquity of both planets and brown dwarfs poses the question of their origins. I will report on how astronomers are deciphering the birth and early evolution of planets and brown dwarfs using a combination of remarkable new observations and sophisticated computer simulations.