“Alien Earths: The Search for Habitable Worlds around Nearby Stars”

Zoom Link for Colloquium 11/23/2021 3:00pm PST.

Please email astrobio@uw.edu for zoom presentation password

Presented By: Daniel Apai (U Arizona / NExSS)

With the number of extrasolar planets discoveries increasing rapidly, a key emerging frontier of extrasolar planet research is the search for potentially habitable planets around nearby stars. It is these relatively nearby planets that we may hope to survey in the near future for potential atmospheric signatures of life. However, due to the challenging nature of exoplanet observations, the majority of nearby planets remains undiscovered. In addition, the nature of many known, nearby planets remains still poorly understood due to the lack of data on their fundamental properties.

In this talk I will present our large, NASA ICAR interdisciplinary project Alien Earths that aims to address these challenges. Our Alien Earths team works toward developing a comprehensive, integrative framework to study and characterize nearby planetary systems to determine which of them are more likely to harbor habitable worlds. In the talk, I will also show examples of how the planetary system architectures and presence of nearby planets can be successfully predicted by combining system-specific but incomplete information with robust, population-level, statistical constraints. I will also describe how Alien Earths combines multiple lines of evidence to characterize nearby planetary systems and support target selection and the interpretation of observations of future missions that search for life on other worlds.