Advance ticket sales have ended but plenty of additional tickets remain available at the door.
Profs and Pints Northern Virginia presents: “The Search for Life Beyond Earth,” an overview of the quest for other inhabitable planets, with Peter Plavchan, associate professor of physics and astronomy at George Mason University and director of George Mason Observatories.
The search for other planets has made enormous strides over the past 30 years, confirming the existence of more than 5,500 exoplanets. Now the race is on to find Earth-sized temperate planets, understand their atmospheres, and try to find signs of life on them. Powerful new instruments such as the James Webb Space Telescope and the future Habitable Worlds Observatory hold the promise of yielding breakthroughs revealing that we’re not alone.
Come learn in depth how astronomers are carrying out this search for other planets—and what they’ve been learning along the way—with Peter Plavchan, a leader in the quest for other worlds and the discoverer of several of them.
Professor Plavchan will speak in depth about his research on exoplanets orbiting low-mass stars, describing in depth how researchers determine their mass and details of their orbits. He also will discuss his involvement in a NASA project that seeks to detect other planets using ground-based telescopes around the world as well as telescopes that we’ve sent out into space.
It’s a talk that will leave you with a different view of the night sky. (Advance tickets: $13.50 plus sales tax and processing fees. Doors: $17, or $15 with a student ID. Listed time is for doors. Talk starts 30 minutes later.)
Image: An artist’s conception of the Kepler Space Telescope, credited with discovering more than 2.600 exoplanets before being retired in 2018. (Image from NASA/Wendy Stenzel/Daniel Rutter).