The UNM Physics and Astronomy Department will host the next colloquium for its Spring 2011 series Friday, Feb. 4 at 4 p.m. in Dane Smith Hall, room 125. Titled, "A space coronagraph mission for exoplanet imaging and spectroscopy - challenges and prospects in the coming decade," the colloquium will feature John Trauger from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory - Caltech.

More than 500 planets are known to orbit stars other than our Sun. The coming decade will see a rapid expansion of exoplanet research and a deeper understanding of planetary systems in our galactic neighborhood. The astrophysics of these systems, i.e. the direct imaging and spectroscopy of exoplanets and circumstellar environments associated with the nearby stars, is thwarted by the overpowering glare of the central star.

New techniques are called for, among which are new methods for the suppression of scattered and diffracted light in a large space telescope. Trauger will review recent space coronagraph methods for exoplanet imaging, as well as prospects for a space telescope mission designed for exoplanet studies in the coming decade.