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Professor Barrie Jones, Open University
Professor Barrie Jones, Open University

Press Release - 26 October 2005

Public lecture to hear about search for aliens

A leading astronomer will talk about the prospects for discovering alien life at the free annual Herschel Lecture taking place at the University of Bath next month (Wednesday 23 November 2005).

Professor Barrie Jones from the Open University will talk about some of the techniques used by astronomers to narrow down the search for ET.

“To find life beyond the Solar System we must first find potential habitats, and that means planets, and not just any planets, but planets of roughly the same mass, size and composition as Earth,” said Professor Jones.

“Any such planets must be located in the habitable zone, the ‘Goldilocks’ range of distances from the star where an Earth-like planet could bear surface life that requires liquid water, like all life on Earth.”

This is because scientists predict that alien life will most likely be based on liquid water and complex carbon compounds, so astronomers look for these Earth-like kinds of environments as the best chance of locating life beyond our Solar System.

Professor Jones will talk about the hunt for these kinds of planets, and the successes to date in finding potential alien life habitats amongst the stars.

The free lecture will take place in Lecture Theatre 8 West 1.1 at 7.30pm on Wednesday 23 November 2005. No need to book tickets – just turn up on the evening.

The lecture is organised annually by the University and the William Herschel Society in remembrance of the Bath-based astronomer who discovered Uranus in 1781 and founded modern astronomy.

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