Amer­i­can univer­sity pro­fes­sor searches for life out­side our so­lar sys­tem

The Drumheller Mail - - SPORTS - Sub­mit­ted The Drumheller Mail

The April 21 ses­sion of the 2016 Royal Tyrrell Mu­seum’s Speaker Se­ries is a pre­sen­ta­tion by Dr. Ed­ward Guinan, Pro­fes­sor of As­tron­omy and Astro­physics, Vil­lanova Univer­sity, Penn­syl­va­nia en­ti­tled “Search­ing for Life-bear­ing Ex­o­plan­ets in our Galaxy.”

Ex­o­plan­ets are plan­ets that ex­ist out­side of our so­lar sys­tem.

The num­ber of con­firmed ex­o­plan­ets is rapidly grow­ing and now ex­ceeds two thou­sand. An ad­di­tional nearly 5,000 exoplanet can­di­dates are await­ing con­fir­ma­tion in the NASA Exoplanet Archive.

Most of th­ese plan­ets have been dis­cov­ered by the NASA Ke­pler Mis­sion, a space ob­ser­va­tory launched by NASA specif­i­cally to dis­cover Earth­size plan­ets or­bit­ing other stars. Smaller sub­sets of th­ese plan­ets are sim­i­lar in size to the Earth and or­bit in the (liq­uid wa­ter) Hab­it­able Zones (HZ) of their host stars.

It is es­ti­mated that about ten to fif­teen per­cent of so­lar­type stars and about twenty to twenty-five per­cent of the more nu­mer­ous cooler (red dwarf) stars host Earth-size HZ plan­ets. Th­ese plan­ets are of great in­ter­est be­cause they have con­di­tions roughly sim­i­lar to Earth and there­fore could be po­ten­tially hab­it­able plan­ets (PHPs).

This talk briefly dis­cusses how th­ese ex­o­plan­ets are dis­cov­ered; how­ever, the main fo­cus will be on the stel­lar and planet prop­er­ties that ap­pear nec­es­sary for life to form and de­velop on their sur­faces. New mis­sions and tech­niques to de­tect sig­na­tures of life (biosig­na­tures) on th­ese plan­ets are pre­sented along with the fea­si­bil­ity of in­ter­stel­lar mis­sions to nearby HZ ex­o­plan­ets that could sup­port life.

The Royal Tyrrell Mu­seum’s Speaker Se­ries talks are free and open to the pub­lic. The se­ries is held ev­ery Thurs­day un­til April 28, 2016 at 11:00 a.m. in the Mu­seum au­di­to­rium. Past pre­sen­ta­tions are also avail­able on the Mu­seum’s YouTube chan­nel:­alTyrrel­lMu­seum. For more in­for­ma­tion, visit tyrrell­mu­

Dr. Ed­ward Guinan, pro­fes­sor of As­tron­omy and Astro­physics, Vil­lanova Univer­sity

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