Paul Kalas

Paul Kalas

Title
Adjunct Professor
Department
Dept of Astronomy
Phone
(510) 642-8285
Fax
(510) 642-3411
Research Expertise and Interest
planets, astronomy, solar system, Telescopes, Science Ethics, astrobiology, origin of life
Research Description

My expertise is imaging planetary systems around nearby stars. I use some of the world's most advanced observatories, such as the Hubble Space Telescope, Keck Observatory, and the Gemini Telescopes. One of my most well-known images is the planetary system surrounding Fomalhaut, which is a bright star located 25 light years away in the constellation Pisces Austrinus. I also teach science ethics, which in addition to the core concepts of plagiarism, falsification and fabrication, includes the topics of authorship, mentorship, dual-use technologies, data rights, intellectual property, diversity and inclusion, and the environmental impact of research.

In the News

June 24, 2020

Rogue’s gallery of dusty star systems reveals exoplanet nurseries

Astronomers this month released the largest collection of sharp, detailed images of debris disks around young stars, showcasing the great variety of shapes and sizes of stellar systems during their prime planet-forming years. Surprisingly, nearly all showed evidence of planets.
February 28, 2019

Exiled planet linked to stellar flyby 3 million years ago

Some of the peculiar aspects of our solar system — an enveloping cloud of comets, dwarf planets in weird orbits and, if it truly exists, a possible Planet Nine far from the sun — have been linked to the close approach of another star in our system’s infancy that flung things helter-skelter.

In the News

June 24, 2020

Rogue’s gallery of dusty star systems reveals exoplanet nurseries

Astronomers this month released the largest collection of sharp, detailed images of debris disks around young stars, showcasing the great variety of shapes and sizes of stellar systems during their prime planet-forming years. Surprisingly, nearly all showed evidence of planets.
February 28, 2019

Exiled planet linked to stellar flyby 3 million years ago

Some of the peculiar aspects of our solar system — an enveloping cloud of comets, dwarf planets in weird orbits and, if it truly exists, a possible Planet Nine far from the sun — have been linked to the close approach of another star in our system’s infancy that flung things helter-skelter.

Featured in the Media

Please note: The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or positions of UC Berkeley.
March 1, 2019
Allan Adamson
We started with 461 suspects and discovered two that were at the scene of the crime, says adjunct astronomy professor Paul Kalas about a new study he co-authored, suggesting that stellar flybys can throw planets, comets, and asteroids off course, reshaping whole planetary systems in their wake. Using the Gemini Telescope and data from the Hubble Space Telescope to study a relatively young solar system some 300 light years away, the researchers focused on the strange orbit of HD 106906 b, a planet that is 11 times bigger than Jupiter and has an orbit that's tipped 21 degrees from the plane of the disk surrounding the star. They also found that the star has a lopsided comet belt. After gathering data on 461 stars in the same cluster, they calculated the stars' positions backward in time, and that indicated that another binary star system may have come close enough to change the system about 3 million years ago. "What we have done here is actually find the stars that could have given HD 106906 b the extra gravitational kick, a second kick so that it became long-lived, just like a hypothetical Planet Nine would be in our solar system," Professor Kalas says. For more on this, see our press release at Berkeley News.
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