Jul 08, 2014
Dr. Margaret C. Turnbull, UW-Madison Astronomy Department
"Will There Ever Be Another Earth? How Astronomers Search for Earthlike Extrasolar Planets."
In the last twenty years, exoplanetary science has revolutionized the study of planetary systems and how they form -- and the next key goal motivating exoplanetary science is to discover and characterize exo-Earths. This talk will review (1) where we stand currently with habitable planet detection, (2) the reasons to attempt a direct imaging mission and the surprising multitude of factors that play into designing such a mission, and (3) what we could conceivably learn about life in the neighborhood of the sun with current and near-term technology. Although this young field has generated intense public interest and yielded thousands of surprising results, we may have barely scratched the surface of what the universe has to offer.