The “Cambridge Workshop on Cool Stars, Stellar Systems, and the Sun” (also known as “Cool Stars”) has been running for 34 years since the first one was held in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1980. Previous Cool Stars venues include Santa Fe, NM; Boulder, CO; Seattle, WA; Tucson, AZ; Athens, GA; Florence, Italy; Tenerife, Spain; Hamburg, Germany; Pasadena, CA; St. Andrews, Scotland; and Barcelona, Spain. Lowell Observatory is proud to add Flagstaff, Arizona to this long list of distinguished cities. Continua a leggere Cool Stars, Stellar Systems and the Sun
Two big questions are at the centre of research regarding the emergence of life on Earth and the possibility of life in the universe: (a) is there life on other celestial bodies? and (b) when did life first appear on Earth ? To throw light on these questions, reliable methods for the detection of life using unambiguous biosignatures are essential. In this respect huge progress has been made during the last years. For example, new space missions like ECHO are planned to characterise atmospheres of exoplanets and sophisticated methods for detecting life in ancient geological formations have been developed. This meeting will to bring together astronomers, geologists, biologists and other interested scientists to share interdisciplinary approaches to detect signs of life on early Earth and other celestial bodies (including exoplanets) and to elucidate the environmental limits and origins of life.
Observations from ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) have, for the first time, determined the rotation rate of an exoplanet. Beta Pictoris b has been found to have a day that lasts only eight hours. This is much quicker than any planet in the Solar System, its equator is moving at almost 100.000 kilometres per hour. This new result extends the relation between mass and rotation seen in the Solar System to exoplanets. Similar techniques will allow astronomers to map exoplanets in detail in the future with the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT).
More at ESO: Length of Exoplanet Day Measured for First Time
Although more than 1.000 exoplanets have been discovered since the first one was found in 1995, only a handful of those are thought to be habitable, at least by life as we know it. New research shows that exomoons, too, could provide habitable environments. Although we are yet to find exomoons, we have good reasons to believe that there should be many, even more than exoplanets.
More at The Conversation: Move over exoplanets, exomoons may harbour life too
Last week, scientists announced the discovery of Kepler-186f, a planet 492 light years away in the Cygnus constellation. Kepler-186f is special because it marks the first planet almost exactly the same size as Earth orbiting in the “habitable zone” – the distance from a star in which we might expect liquid water, and perhaps life. What did not make the news, however, is that this discovery also slightly increases how much credence we give to the possibility of near-term human extinction. This is because of a concept known as the Great Filter.
More at The Conversation: Habitable exoplanets are bad news for humanity
Within a matter of years, humanity will know for the first time the frequency of terrestrial planets in orbit around other stars. This knowledge will pave the way for joining research from astronomy, Earth science, and biology to understand the past, present, and future of the Earth within its larger context as one of many habitable worlds throughout the Galaxy. Such work seeks to understand the formation and fate of the Earth as well as predict where and when different bodies will be suitable for both simple and complex forms of life.
In this four day symposium, scientists from diverse fields will discuss the formation and long-term evolution of terrestrial bodies throughout the various phases of stellar and Galactic evolution. A particular focus will be in how the specific conditions and challenges for habitability on Earth extend to other bodies in the Solar System and beyond. This symposium will include discussion about sites for Galactic habitability that have not yet been given much attention. The existence of these overlooked environments may provide motivation for novel astronomical observations with existing and next generation ground and space-based observatories.
Invited speakers will cover the following topics:
- Terrestrial planet formation, volatile delivery, and the formation of moons
- Early Earth geochemistry, atmosphere, and the origins of life
- The frequency of terrestrial planets across stellar mass
- The limits to Earth-like life
- Habitability of planets and moons during all phases of stellar evolution
- Habitability in low-luminosity environments
Exoplanet research is one of the major science drivers for the future 39-m European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT). A comprehensive suite of instruments will provide the community with the ability to conduct a wide range of outstanding exoplanet science programmes. In addition, some combinations of instruments will indeed be more powerful than the sum of the individual parts.
The purpose of this workshop is to provide a forum to synthesize a vision of the goals to be achieved by the E-ELT in the field of exoplanets, considering on the one hand the planned capabilities of the E-ELT and its instrumentation, and on the other hand, the most relevant issues in exoplanet science of the next decade.
LCOGT is pleased to welcome the worldwide microlensing community to beautiful Santa Barbara, California for the 18th Annual International Conference. Please browse our website for details on the week’s scientific and social events.
Topics will include:
- Microlensing Discoveries
- Microlensing Results in the Wider Context
including planet frequency, free-floating planets, implications for planetary
formation/evolution, galactic structure and stellar mass function.
- Observing Microlensing Phenomenon
including the status & developments of ground-based survey and follow-up teams,
strategies, instrumentation, space-based missions and future opportunities.
- Lensing Theory, Modeling and Computation
Astrotomography is a generic term for indirect mapping techniques that can be applied to a huge variety of astrophysical systems, ranging from planets via single stars and binaries to active galactic nuclei. With this workshop we aim at consolidating the success of a previous workshop dedicated to this topic, and plan to bring together people from different communities but who use similar techniques to construct images at very high angular resolution. In the time since the first workshop, the scientific output of the astrotomography methods has been considerable, the range of applications becoming larger and larger with time. It is thus timely to review these methods, the progress in the field, the new harvest of results that were collected, as well as to prepare the next generation of astronomers to use these tools.