November 14, 2018 - 4:00pm

Colloquium: The Terrestrial Planets of Other Stars

Professor David Charbonneau, Harvard University
Crow Hall, Room 201

When exoplanets transit their parent stars, we are granted an unparalleled opportunity to detect their presence and study their bulk properties.  I will review recent analyses of data from the NASA Kepler Mission to deduce the rate of occurrence of small planets.  I will then present follow up measurements of the acceleration of a subset of the host stars, which allows us to estimate the planetary masses and hence densities.  Finally, I will discuss recent findings from the MEarth Project, which seeks to discover the most spectroscopically accessible terrestrial exoplanets.  Our recent discovery of a temperate rocky world orbiting the nearby small star LHS1140 provides an unprecedented opportunity to detect the molecules present in the atmosphere of a terrestrial exoplanet.

November 15, 2018 - 7:00pm

Public Lecture: How to Find an Inhabited Exoplanet

Professor David Charbonneau, Harvard University
Whitaker Hall, Room 100

THE PUBLIC LECTURE WILL TAKE PLACE TODAY AT 7:00PM.  THE SIDEWALKS ARE CLEAR OF SNOW BETWEEN MILLBROOK GARAGE AND WHITAKER HALL.  GOLF CARTS WILL BE AVAILABLE TO SHUTTLE GUESTS BACK AND FORTH BETWEEN MILLBROOK GARAGE AND WHITAKER HALL. 

The NASA Kepler Mission taught us that Earth-sized planets are commonplace throughout the Galaxy.  But did life take root on any of these distant worlds?  Using upcoming large telescopes, astronomers will search the atmospheres of Earth-like planets for the telltale chemical fingerprints of life.