Paul Kalas

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Paul Kalas
Paul Kalas in 2015.jpg
Paul Kalas in 2015, Cerro Pachón, Chile
Born (1967-08-13) August 13, 1967 (age 53)
NationalityGreek American
CitizenshipUnited States of America
Alma materUniversity of Hawaii
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Known forExoplanet Research
Fomalhaut, Fomalhaut b
AwardsNewcomb Cleveland Prize (2009)
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of California, Berkeley
Doctoral advisorDavid Jewitt

Paul Kalas (born August 13, 1967) is a Greek American astronomer known for his discoveries of debris disks around stars. Kalas led a team of scientists to obtain the first visible-light images of an extrasolar planet with orbital motion around the star Fomalhaut, at a distance of 25 light years from Earth.[1] [2] The planet is referred to as Fomalhaut b.


Kalas was born in New York City to George Kavallinis and Maria Drettakis, who immigrated to the United States from Heraklion, Crete. Kalas attended Detroit Country Day School in Michigan, and studied astronomy and physics at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He earned a Ph.D. in Astronomy in 1996 from the University of Hawaii under the direction of astronomer David Jewitt.

Kalas worked as a postdoctoral scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany, the Space Telescope Science Institute, and the University of California, Berkeley. In 2006, he became an Adjunct Professor of Astronomy at the University of California, Berkeley.

Kalas lives with his wife Aspasia Gkika and daughters Maria-Nikoleta and Natalia near Berkeley, California.[3]


Kalas discovered several circumstellar disks using a coronagraph on the Hubble Space Telescope and at the University of Hawaii 2.2-meter telescope at Mauna Kea, Hawaii. In 1995 he discovered various forms of asymmetric structures in optical images of the Beta Pictoris disk.[4] He was the lead scientist for the first optical images of debris disks surrounding the nearby red dwarf AU Microscopii and the bright star Fomalhaut.[5][6]

Kalas' Hubble Space Telescope image of Fomalhaut revealed a narrow belt of dusty material analogous to our Solar System's Kuiper Belt. However, Kalas also found that Fomalhaut's belt is narrow and geometrically offset from the star by 15 astronomical units. These features are considered strong evidence for an extrasolar planet orbiting Fomalhaut that gravitationally sculpts the morphology of the belt.

Circumstellar disks discovered: 5
AU Microscopii[6] October 14, 2003
Fomalhaut[5] May 17, 2004
HD 15115[7] July 17, 2006
HD 53143[8] September 11, 2004
HD 139664[8] October 14, 2004


Selected publications[edit]


  • Kalas, P.; Liu, M.C. & Matthews, B.C. (2004). "Discovery of a large dust disk around the nearby star AU Microscopii". Science. 303 (5666): 1990–1992. arXiv:astro-ph/0403132. Bibcode:2004Sci...303.1990K. doi:10.1126/science.1093420. PMID 14988511.



  1. ^ Overbye, Dennis (November 14, 2008). "First Pictures Taken of Extrasolar Planets". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 November 2008.
  2. ^ Kalas, Paul; et al. (2008). "Optical Images of an Exosolar Planet 25 Light-Years from Earth". Science. 322 (5906): 1345–1348. arXiv:0811.1994. Bibcode:2008Sci...322.1345K. doi:10.1126/science.1166609. PMID 19008414.
  3. ^
  4. ^ Kalas, P.; Jewitt, D. (1995). "Asymmetries in the Beta Pictoris dust disk". The Astrophysical Journal. 110: 794–804. Bibcode:1995AJ....110..794K. doi:10.1086/117565.
  5. ^ a b Kalas, P.; Graham, J.R. & Clampin, M. (2005). "A planetary system as the origin of structure in Fomalhaut's dust belt". Nature. 435 (7045): 1067–1070. arXiv:astro-ph/0506574. Bibcode:2005Natur.435.1067K. doi:10.1038/nature03601. PMID 15973402.
  6. ^ a b Kalas, P.; Liu, M.C. & Matthews, B.C. (2004). "Discovery of a large dust disk around the nearby star AU Microscopii". Science. 303 (5666): 1990–1992. arXiv:astro-ph/0403132. Bibcode:2004Sci...303.1990K. doi:10.1126/science.1093420. PMID 14988511.
  7. ^ Kalas, P.; Fitzgerald, M. & Graham, J.R. (2007). "Discovery of extreme asymmetry in the debris disk surrounding HD 15115". The Astrophysical Journal. 661 (1): L85–L88. arXiv:0704.0645. Bibcode:2007ApJ...661L..85K. doi:10.1086/518652.
  8. ^ a b Kalas, P.; Graham, J.R.; Clampin, M.C. & Fitzgerald, M. (2006). "First scattered light images of debris disks around HD 53143 and HD 139664". The Astrophysical Journal. 637 (1): L57–L60. arXiv:astro-ph/0601488. Bibcode:2006ApJ...637L..57K. doi:10.1086/500305.
  9. ^ Sarah Yang (November 24, 2014). "Four UC Berkeley faculty named AAAS fellows". Retrieved 2015-11-16.
  10. ^ AIAA Public Release (July 13, 2010). "Space 2010 Conference set for August 30 - Sep. 2 in Anaheim". Retrieved 2015-11-16.
  11. ^ Robert Sanders (February 18, 2010). "Images of extrasolar planets win award for most outstanding papers in Science". Retrieved 2010-03-11.
  12. ^ AAAS (November 2009). "Newcomb Cleveland Prize Recipients". Archived from the original on 2012-10-23. Retrieved 2010-04-21.

External links[edit]