Jean-Pierre Caillault, Professor of Astronomy
My research has concentrated primarily on stellar X-ray astronomy, with a special emphasis on stellar clusters (such as the Pleiades) and star-forming regions (like the Trapezium cluster in the Orion Nebula). One of the most important issues that can be addressed through these studies is determining what parameters (e.g., age and mass) most affect the stellar X-ray luminosity function. Mass-dependent spindown timescales give rise to age-dependent distributions of rotational velocities, i.e., rotation seems to be the key. Since the X-ray activity in a late-type star is expected to arise as the result of the magnetic dynamo, a relation between X-ray emission and rotation is not surprising. This research is carried out mostly with data acquired from satellite-borne imaging X-ray telescopes but also requires the use of optical and radio telescope facilities.
Another area of interest is the ages of Vega-like stars, since this knowledge may play an important role in understanding whether planetary system formation is common. If the ages of Vega-like stars are all very young, then this suggests that planet formation is common and that the range of dust optical depths is an age indicator; if the ages are spread out over a few hundred Myr, then planetary formation would be determined by random initial conditions.
T. Hearty, L. Magnani, J.-P. Caillault, R. Neuhauser, J.H.M.M. Schmitt, & J. Stauffer, "A search for star formation in the translucent clouds MBM7 & MBM55," Astron. & Astrophys. 341, 163 (1999).
G. Micela, S. Sciortino, F.R. Harnden, Jr., V. Kashyap, R. Rosner, C.F. Prosser, F. Damiani, J. Stauffer, & J.-P. Caillault, "Deep ROSAT HRI observations of the Pleiades," Astron. & Astrophys., 341 751 (1999).
D. Barrado y Navascues, J.R. Stauffer, I. Song, & J.-P. Caillault, "The age of Beta Pictoris," Astrophys. J. 520, L123 (1999).
I. Song, J.-P. Caillault, D. Barrado y Navascues, J.R. Stauffer, & S. Randich, "Ages of late spectral type Vega-like stars," Astrophys. J. 533, L41 (2000).