Lichty lectures on the search for extrasolar planets

Lyle Lichty, professor of physics, will give a lecture on Nov 17th titled “Progress and Surprises in the Search for Other Earths.” Nearly 700 extrasolar planets have been discovered since 1995, yet the number of confirmed Earth-like planets remains at one; only Earth can sustain life as we know it. Both these numbers should change dramatically in the near future, when many of the 1,202 planet candidates found by the Kepler Mission will be confirmed as actual planets. Over 50 of these planet candidates have temperatures appropriate for life and several have sizes near that of Earth. This talk will consider how planets are found and confirmed; the surprising features of other solar systems; planetary data and analysis tools publicly available online; and how we may eventually find signs of life on planets outside our solar system.