Letters of Intent for 2015

LoI 2015-199
Young Stars and Planets Near the Sun


28 July 2015 to 31 July 2015


Hawaii, United States


Ben Zuckerman (ben@astro.ucla.edu)

Coordinating division:

Division G Stars and Stellar Physics

Co-Chairs of SOC:

Ben Zuckerman (UCLA)
Joel Kastner (RIT)

Chair of LOC:

Eric Nielsen (University of Hawaii)



a) methods of identification of young (8-200 Myr old) stars within 100 pc of Earth

b) presently established youthful moving groups and associations: their ages and origins, and their most notable members

c) lessons learned from nearby young stellar groups (I): the early (8-200 Myr) evolution of magnetic activity, rotation, convection, and coronal/photospheric compositions in low- to intermediate-mass stars

d) lessons learned from nearby young stellar groups (II): dispersal of protoplanetary disks and the origins, structures, and compositions of debris disks

e) direct imaging of young brown dwarfs and planets within ~100 pc: techniques and status

f) the early evolution of planetary systems: confronting theory with observations of 8-200 Myr-old stars near Earth

g) the future of young stellar and planetary research: extreme AO systems (e.g., GPI, SPHERE) and wide field surveys (e.g., GAIA, Pan-STARRS, VISTA, LSST)



The region surrounding the Sun out to a distance of ~100 pc is often described as the “local bubble” due to the relatively low density of the interstellar medium and an accompanying lack of any regions of star formation. In the past two decades, research by many astronomers has revealed an abundance of post T Tauri stars and early type stars of comparable age inside of the bubble. The youngest such stars are about 8 Myr old. Many of the stars have been placed into moving groups and associations with ages that span the range 8 to ~200 Myr. Because these stars are close to Earth they represent the best sample available to astronomy for mapping out the nature of stellar evolution from 8 to 200 Myr.

While these youthful stars are themselves of great interest to stellar astronomy, it is probable that their ultimate value to astronomy will rest more on their standing as the best laboratories for direct imaging of dusty circumstellar debris disks and substellar objects (brown dwarfs and especially planets). Two of the most famous stars in the sky (beta Pictoris and HR 8799) have achieved their leading astronomical stature as a consequence of their orbiting debris disks and giant planets.

Remarkably, with the exception of a March 2001 workshop held at NASA’s Ames Research Center (see the ASP Conf Series volume 244 edited by Ray Jayawardhana and Tom Greene), there never has been an astronomical meeting that has focused on youthful stars within 100 pc of Earth.

Our proposed Symposium would bring 14 years of advances in this field up-to-date. This will include attention to new advances -- for example, extreme adaptive optics and new wide-field surveys – that relate to both the young stars and the stuff that orbits around them.

Stellar ages intersect several different areas of Galactic astronomy (exoplanets, debris disks, stellar evolution, etc), so we anticipate that the proposed symposium will have broad appeal and will bring together astronomers who might not normally go to the same conferences.

Drs. Michael Liu and Eric Nielsen of the host institution for the General Assembly are involved in helping to organize the proposed symposium. As we put together a full SOC, we will be on the lookout for someone not from the USA who is interested in being a co-chair. If such a person is identified, then either Joel Kastner or Ben Zuckerman will step down and become just a regular member of the SOC.

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