Astrophysicist Dr. Stone will discuss the most exciting findings of exoplanetary research, techniques used to search for exoplanets; the many types of exoplanets; recent findings that are revolutionizing our understanding of planetary systems; and scientific efforts to answer the question: are we alone? Dr. Stone earned his PhD in Astronomy & Astrophysics at Harvard University, given numerous lectures, authored scientific papers, participated at astrophysics conferences in the U. S. and overseas, and was recently awarded an Einstein Fellowship by NASA.
Date: Sunday, April 12, 2015
Time: 3:30 pm
Location: The Bruce Museum, 1 Museum Drive, Greenwich, CT
Cost: Lecture is free and open to the public.
For further information astrogreenwich.org/news-link
Discovery: astronomers search for exoplanets with a variety of direct and indirect techniques, ranging from “smoking gun” signatures, such as eclipses, to more circumstantial evidence, such as the pollution of stellar atmospheres.
Diversity: one of the greatest surprises of the last two decades has been the incredible diversity of exoplanetary systems. Many types of worlds with no clear analogue in our own Solar System, such as “hot Jupiters” and “super-Earths,” are in fact abundant throughout nearby star systems.
Ubiquity: one of our most important realizations is that planets are not rare in the universe; they are in fact ubiquitous! NASA’s Kepler satellite has found thousands of candidate exoplanets, and this census has revolutionized astronomers’ understanding of planetary systems.
Habitability: in many ways, the most motivating question for exoplanet researchers is a simple one: are we alone? Although astronomical instruments have not reached the point where they can answer this question, the next generation of telescopes will, for the first time in human history, allow us to study the atmospheres of rocky worlds in the habitable zones of their stars. By measuring the atmospheric composition of these Earth analogues, we can search for “biomarkers” such as oxygen and ozone that are difficult to produce in the absence of a biosphere.