Sounding stars and sizing up exoplanets: searches for other solar systems

Haworth 101 Lecture Theatre - School of Chemistry (Y2 on campus map)
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Thursday 28th February (17:15-18:15)

Professor Bill Chaplin, School of Physics and Astronomy - Inaugural Lecture

When you look up at the sky on a clear night to do ever ask yourself: how many of the twinkling stars have planets, like the planets orbiting our own Sun? And how many of those planets might be capable of harbouring life, like the precious planet we live on? Is there some special combination of properties that a star must possess to elevate the chances of it hosting a habitable planet? Or are some Sun-like stars just too unsafe for their planets?

Thanks to the launch of the NASA Kepler Mission the past three years have seen dramatic progress in the study of other stellar systems in our galaxy. Kepler has been continuously monitoring the brightness of around 150,000 stars in our galaxy and has to date discovered over 2,000 candidate planets. In order to properly understand the formation, the evolution over time, and the frequency of habitable systems like our own, we must not only find and measure the properties of small rocky planets, but also fully characterise the properties of their host stars. Kepler’s exquisite data have revolutionised the study of stars, in particular thanks to the application of a powerful new technique called asteroseismology, the study of stars by observation of their natural resonances (“music of the stars”).

In this lecture, Professor Bill Chaplin will discuss the leading role that Birmingham is playing in this work.

Attendance is free but registration is essential, email Pauline Trigg at for details and tickets.

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