What’s on : Lectures

Fantastic Planets and how to find them.

12 Mar 2019
Start time
7:30 PM
Tempest Anderson Hall
Dr Emily Brunsden, Department of Physics, University of York

Event Information

Fantastic Planets and how to find them.

Dr Emily Brunsden, Department of Physics, University of York

Imagine living in a world with three Suns, red jungles or endless night. These ideas have moved from fiction to reality as we discover more and more fantastic planets in our galaxy. This talk explains how we find such amazing worlds, how we know what they might be like and what we are still searching for out there.

Astrophysics (YPS mini theme for 2019)

Member’s report

NASA is making rapid advances in discovering exoplanets, that is, planets orbiting a sun outside our solar system. The first exoplanet discovery was in 1995, using the Doppler effect of colour changes of the star caused by minute wobbles due to the exoplanet’s orbit. Several hundred other exoplanets were discovered by this technique, but since 2009, NASA’s Kepler Mission has measured the brightness of over 100,000 stars, looking for tiny variations caused by a planet transit of the star. In 2018, an even more powerful space telescope (TESS) was launched, and there are now 3,924 confirmed exoplanets, and 2,290 possible candidates.

There are several common types of exoplanet, some without a nearby sun, but the most common are hot, larger than the Earth, and in short period orbits. A major interest is to identify exoplanets about the size of the Earth, and in the habitable zone of their stars. An example is the Trappist-1 system with seven planets in total, all with possible zones of liquid water, and with three planets in the generally accepted habitable zone. The race is now on to find an exoplanet with a recognisable biosignature.

Rod Leonard