Mar 27, 2014
Travis Metcalfe , Space Science Institute
""Sizing up Kepler's exoplanets with asteroseismology""
The past two decades have witnessed accelerating progress on
one of the most fundamental questions in astronomy: Are we alone in
the Universe? Astronomers have already discovered hundreds of planets
around distant stars. Some of them are nearly as small as the Earth
and orbit in the "Goldilocks zone" of their parent star where liquid
water can exist. It remains to be seen whether biological signatures
of life or evidence of radio communications can be found in these
planetary systems. Our current emphasis is to determine how common
such planets might be, to find as many of them as possible, and to
characterize those which have already been discovered. I will give an
overview of NASA's Kepler space telescope, how it searches for planets
around distant stars, and how we characterize those planets using the
natural vibrations of their suns.