UW Astrobiology & The NASA Astrobiology Institute present:
The Kepler Mission
Exotic Solar Systems on the Path to Earth-Like Planets
April 16th, 7:00pm* - 120 Kane Hall
Humans have long wondered what other planetary systems are like, and if potentially Earth-like planets exist around other stars. NASA’s Kepler Mission is a space telescope that was designed to answer these questions. From four years of Kepler data we can now confidently say that the average planetary system looks nothing like our own. Nature often makes compact planetary systems where several planets orbit closer in than Mercury’s distance, where our planetary system is entirely empty. Within the startling diversity in planetary systems, Kepler data can be combed to understand how common Earth-size planets really are. Prof. Fortney will describe a variety of recent estimates that all point to tens of billions of Earth-sized planets in our Milky Way, and discuss the fraction of these planets that may be temperate enough to potentially support life.
Dr. Jonathan Fortney is an assistant professor in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Previously, he was a postdoctoral research fellow at NASA Ames from 2004-2007. Dr. Fortney received his PhD in Planetary Sciences from the University of Arizona in 2004. He was born and raised near St. Paul, Minnesota, and received a BS degree in physics from Iowa State University in 1999. He is a planetary scientist who works to understand planets as a class of astrophysical objects. His current research is on modeling giant planet atmospheres, interiors, and thermal evolution. (Courtesy NASA)