University of Minnesota
School of Physics & Astronomy

Physics and Astronomy Calendar

Thursday, September 17th 2015
7:00 pm:
The Third MIfA Public Lecture in Bell Museum Auditorium
Speaker:  Chick Woodward, Minnesota Institute for Astrophysics
Subject: To the stars we will go — The worlds of exoplanets

Many movies over the last several decades have dramatized our fascination with alien life forms. But could aliens really exist? This lecture will highlight how astronomers detect and characterize planets outside our solar system that could harbor alien life. The recent revolution of exoplanet detections by the NASA Kepler mission and ground-based searches for exoplanets has given way to a new understanding of how common place other worlds are in the Galaxy. Our prospective of astrobiology as suddenly blossomed. Highlighted, as part of this presentation, will be a review of how astronomers detected and characterize these exo-planets, using techniques at the Large Binocular Telescope Observatory and elsewhere, a reflection on the potential requirements of the habitability zones in exo-planetary system, highlights from NASA missions designed to search for alien worlds, and the surprises within our own solar systems of bodies that may harbor life at present of may have supported life in the past. Indeed, we may be at the point where "E.T. will phone home."

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