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Infrared Astronomy Group (Shibai Group)
Professor : Hiroshi Shibai
Associate Professor : Takahiro Sumi
Research area
1) Infrared observation of formation processes of extrasolar planets and protoplanetary/debri disks
2) Study on interstellar dust grains in galaxy formation/starburst phenomena
3) Development of far-infrared interferometer for astronomy

The infrared astronomy group conducts observational research to investigate formation process of extrasolar planets as well as galaxy formation and starburst phenomena. In these astronomical phenomena, small solid particles (interstellar dust grains) play important roles in energy conversion and various chemical reactions in space. As the dust grains reradiate absorbed energy mainly in the infrared domain, precise infrared observations provide us valuable information to elucidate important physical processes in space. The longer wavelength part of infrared (far-infrared) cannot be observed from the ground because the earth's atmosphere is completely opaque. Therefore, we mount the far-infrared telescopes on artificial satellites or scientific balloons, and execute precise observations in space. In particular, we are developing a far-infrared astronomical interferometer for the first time in the world so as to achieve a spatial resolution more than ten times higher than previously obtained. We also perform near-infrared high-contrast observations of protoplanetary disks and young, gaseous giant extrasolar planets using the Subaru telescope in Hawaii. We search for exoplanets via gravitational microlensing technique by using the MOA-Ⅱ telescope in New Zealand. We have detectied Jovian and Neptune-mass extrasolar planets and are exploring Earth-mass planets.

Infrared image of a newborn star cluster and nebula

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