Watch The Webcast!

Thursday November 6, 2014 8:00 am
discussion posted on-line

Spotlight Live: Earth-like Planets in Other Solar Systems
Q&A Webcast with Zachory Berta-Thompson, Bruce Macintosh & Marie-Eve Naud

If you missed today’s Spotlight Live, you can watch the webcast:


According to everything we know about the universe, thousands of Earth-like, habitable planets should exist in other solar systems. With our ability to detect far-away planets getting better by the year, we’re on the verge of being able to tell which of these “exoplanets” harbor liquid water – a necessity for life as we know it, and one of the main features that astronomers look for when hunting Earth-like planets.

Just last month, astronomers for the first time detected water vapor in the atmosphere of a Neptune-sized planet. Although the planet lacks a rocky surface and orbits so close to its sun that the temperatures reach more than 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit, its discovery proves our ability to detect water vapor on distant planets. The next step is to find it on a rocky, temperate world.

On Wednesday, October 15, from 12:00 until 12:30 pm PDT, three exoplanet hunters will will discuss what we can learn about these planets from our vantage point tens of light years away, and answer your questions about how close we are to discovering other Earths.


ZACHORY BERTA-THOMPSON – Dr. Berta-Thompson is the Torres Fellow for Exoplanetary Research at the MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research. He hunts for exoplanets as a member of the MEarth Project, a survey to find small planets orbiting the closest, smallest stars.

BRUCE MACINTOSH – Dr. Macintosh is the principal investigator for the Gemini Planet Imager, which recently took the best-ever direct photo of a planet outside our solar system. Dr. Macintosh is also a Professor of Physics at Stanford University and a member of the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology.

MARIE-EVE NAUD – Ms. Naud is the University of Montreal PhD student who led analysis that recently uncovered an unusual giant planet with a mass 10 times greater than that of Jupiter and an orbit 2,000 greater than that of ear that of Earth.