Dr. Joshua Schleider
NPP Fellow, Astrophysics Branch
Abstract: M dwarfs, the coolest, lowest-mass stars, comprise ~75% of all stars in the Galaxy. Their unique physical properties and large numbers offer key advantages in Detecting their planets. Observations from the ground and space have revealed a large population of small, Earth-like planets on close orbits around these stars. At wider separations, a smaller population of gas-giant planets has been detected. Despite these advances, much is still unknown regarding M dwarf planetary systems. In this talk, I will describe new M dwarf planet searches with the K2 mission, a new sample of young M dwarfs as direct imaging targets, and the planet imaging capabilities of the James Webb Space Telescope. These efforts will provide further constraints on M dwarf planet frequencies, new targets to study planetary interiors and atmospheres, and pave the way for the first direct images of sub-Jupiter mass companions. I will also describe future instruments and observatories that will build on these results. A complete picture of planets around M dwarfs will unlock the mysteries of planet formation, evolution, and habitability around our most numerous stellar neighbors, but is only accessible through a multi-faceted observational approach.
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