Humankind's speculation about the existence of other worlds like our
own turned into a veritable quest with the launch of
Astronomy Program presents
28th Annual Bunyan
Thursday, March 10, 2011 @ 7:30pm
Free and Open to the
Braun Auditorium, Mudd
333 Campus Drive [map]
"Light and Shadow: Kepler’s
for Habitable Worlds"
Natalie M. Batalha
Deputy Science Team Lead of Kepler
NASA's Kepler spacecraft in March 2009. The mission is designed to
survey a slice of the Milky Way Galaxy to identify
planets orbiting other stars. It looks for the telltale dimming of
light that occurs when an orbiting planet passes in front of the
star thereby casting a shadow into space. The roster of exoplanets
discovered by Kepler has reached 15 in number, including
one world that is unquestionably rocky in composition. Moreover, the
team has released a catalog of more than one thousand
stars showing the recurring dimmings of light that suggest the
presence of a planet. The methods used to identify planets will
be described in this talk as well as the discoveries that have been
announced to date. Now beginning its third year of
operation, Kepler is honing in on the answer to the question that
drives the mission: are potentially inhabitable worlds
abundant in our galaxy.
Each year the Stanford Astronomy Program
organizes the Bunyan Lecture, named for James T. Bunyan, a member
of the Hoover Institution whose will specified that his estate
endow lectures that "inquire into man's changing vision of the
cosmos and of human destiny as revealed in the latest discoveries
in the fields of astronomy and space exploration."
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