University of Bath

Hues of Habitability - characterising pale blue dots around other stars

The 2018 Caroline Herschel Prize Lecture.

21 Nov 20187.00pm
21 Nov 20188.30pm
Hues of Habitability

Dr Sarah Rugheimer will deliver the 2018, and inaugural, Caroline Herschel Prize Lecture. This Prize Lectureship has been established by the William Herschel Society, in association with the Royal Astronomical Society, to celebrate Caroline’s memory by supporting promising female astronomers early in their careers.

Dr. Sarah Rugheimer discusses how we might detect life on another planet, and also how we might be fooled. This planet we call home is teeming with life from the very depths of the ocean where no light penetrates, to small brine layers between ice crystals and near-boiling iridescent waters of Yellowstone. As we discover the vast diversity of extremophile life on Earth, our minds can only begin to imagine the possibilities for life to exist on other planets in the Universe. In this talk she will present how we are going to characterize terrestrial planet atmospheres orbiting other stars. Atmospheric modelling allows us to examine two key areas of interest in origins research – the remote detection of life on an exoplanet and the atmospheric conditions of early Earth that gave rise to the origin of life.

Theoretical modelling of atmospheres is essential in determining the size, resolution, and observing time required for a telescope to detect signs of life, or bio signatures, around an Earth-like planet orbiting a distant star. Dr. Sarah Rugheimer will discuss her own research in modelling the atmospheres and spectra of Earth-like planets orbiting F, G, K and M stars (the spectral range with stellar lifetimes of at least two billion years to allow for the evolution of life.) She will also discuss the upcoming missions JWST and the future with LUVIOR in our current roadmap to attempt a second origin of life on an exoplanet.