Astrobiology

Characterizing the Coldest Exoplanets

The coldest known exoplanets are still much hotter than the gas giant planets in our own Solar System.  Pushing to colder temperatures requires observing in the thermal infrared (3-5 microns) where self-luminous gas-giants peak in brightness. 

The History of the Martian South Polar Cap

In the last few years we have found that Mars' south polar cap has as much carbon-dioxide as Mars' current atmosphere. This raises numerous questions about how this massive deposit formed and what Mars was like when it was in the atmosphere. Using a combination of methods including spacecraft imagery, radar, and modeling we can start to answer some of these questions. Carver Bierson will discuss evidence that these deposits may have formed over several cycles of Mars atmosphere collapsing onto the surface and then sublimating back into the atmosphere.

Triggering Big Bursts of Star Formation in Blue Compact Dwarf Galaxies

Dwarf galaxies tend to form stars inefficiently. Yet, blue compact dwarf (BCD) galaxies are a subset of dwarf galaxies that have intense and concentrated star formation (compared to typical dwarf galaxies). BCDs are thought to require a large disturbance to trigger their burst of star formation. A common theory is that the enhanced star formation in a BCD is the result of an interaction with another galaxy or a dwarf-dwarf galaxy merger. However, many BCDs are relatively isolated from other galaxies, making an interaction or a merger a less likely starburst trigger.

REU Students Lightning Talks

The SETI Institute REU students Class of 2016 will summarise their summer projects in exciting 3 minute lightning talks!

Eventbrite - The Breakthrough Initiative - Listen and Megastructures at KIC 8463

Large Hadron Collider, Stage 2: the search for new particles and forces

In 2010, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at the laboratory CERN in Geneva, Switzerland, began its exploration of physics at distances 10,000 smaller than an atomic nucleus. The first data-taking period of the LHC ran from 2010 to 2013, colliding protons at energies of 7 and 8 TeV (trillion electron volts). Many novel observations were made, including the discovery of the long-sought Higgs boson. However, the most fundamental questions that motivated the LHC remain unanswered. The second data-taking period of the LHC began last summer, at the higher energy of 13 TeV.

Exoplanets: Under a Microscope, and Through a Wide-field Lens

Abstract: The Solar System furnishes the most familiar planetary architecture: many planets, orbiting nearly coplanar to one another. We can examine the composition and atmospheres of the Solar System planets in detail, even occasionally in situ. Studies of planets orbiting other stars (exoplanets), in contrast, only begin to approach the precision of humanity's knowledge of Earth five hundred years ago. I will describe a two-pronged approach to the study of exoplanets.

QUEST! The Search for Life Beyond Earth and Science of the SETI Institute

The SETI Institute is a 32 year-old non-profit research institute whose mission is to explore, understand and explain the nature of life in the universe. Most famous for its use of radio astronomy for the search for extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) the Institute is actually a multidisciplinary research organization where more than 70 scientists cover the full spectrum of the physical and biological sciences to explore the origins of life beyond earth. In this presentation, CEO Bill Diamond, will share the history, science, mission and future direction of the SETI Institute.

 

Evolution of the Solar System Inferred from Sm-Nd Isotopic Studies

Dr. Borg has recently conducted high precision SmNd isotopic analyses of a suite of 11 Martian basaltic meteorites in order to better constrain the age of planetary core formation on Mars. Dr. Borg will show how these data can be used to evaluate the merits and disadvantages of various mathematical approaches that have been employed in previous isotopic work on Martian core formation.

Frontiers in Artifact SETI: Waste Heat, Alien Megastructures & Tabbys Star

In 1960 two seminal papers in SETI were published, providing two visions for SETI. Giuseppe Cocconi and Philip Morrison’s proposed detecting deliberate radio signals ("communication SETI"), while Freeman Dyson ("artifact SETI"), proposed detecting the inevitable effects of massive energy supplies and artifacts on their surroundings. While communication SETI has now had several career-long practitioners, artifact SETI has, until recently, not been a vibrant field of study.

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