Laurance Doyle
Laurance Doyle

Research Scientist

Degree/Major: Ph.D., Physics, 1987, Universita

Curriculum vitae: Doyle, L CV2010.pdf


Long before the discovery of the first planet beyond our solar system, astronomer Laurance Doyle began theorizing about the habitability of planets around other stars, clarifying the conditions needed for a planet to bear life. Relying on his expertise in signal processing, he now looks for patterns in astronomical data, searching for extrasolar planets.

Recently, Doyle has begun using these same statistical tools to look for patterns in animal communication. Drawing on central concepts of information theory, he and colleagues from the University of California at Davis have precisely measured the complexity of the songs of humpback whales, comparing them with communication in other species—including humans. In the future, he plans to expand this innovative line of research, moving to the next level of understanding animal communication. Not content to understand how much an animal can communicate, he seeks to understand the meaning of the vocalizations of other species.

(Excerpt from an Interview with Laurance Doyle)

QUESTION: How will you know if the planet is habitable?

For a planet to have the potential to be inhabited, it must be the right distance from the star so it will receive the right amount of light. The temperature of a habitable planet should allow liquid water to exist on the surface for long periods of time.

Based on the best available ground- and space-based data, I expected there would be about 350 eclipsing binaries in the Kepler data. Actually, there turned out to be more like 3,000 to 4,000 eclipsing binaries that Kepler sees. Just in our first year, we had to look at tens of thousands of light curves to pick out these eclipsing binaries.

QUESTION: Why should the public care about your research?

This work is important for two reasons. If we don’t find a habitable planet, that means earths are rare. It puts the earth in perspective as a somewhat isolated spaceship. That knowledge may allow us to convey the concept that we need to take care of our own planet, and that would be a good thing. People think about moving to Mars, but Mars’ land surface area is only equal to earth’s (since three-fourths of earth is covered with water). With earth’s population currently doubling every 54 years, moving to Mars would only buy us another half century. So earth is it for now.

If we do find another earth, whether it’s around a circumbinary “earth” or a regular single sun-like star, I think people’s thoughts are going to transition to becoming less self-centered. Finding another earth might also make us think more positively about finding other beings in the universe. We have a very real shot at finding other earths with the Kepler Mission. We could detect a potentially habitable extrasolar planet within the next three years. Kepler is hugely important for the question of life in the universe. This is a key time in history.


Laurance Doyle, Timothy Brown, Hans-Jorg Deeg, 2000. Searching for Shadows of Other Earths Scientific American283

Laurance Doyle, J Ellen Blue, Hans-Jorg Deeg, M.F. Doyle, Edward W. Dunham, Jon Jenkins, V.P. Kozhevnikov, E.L. Martin, Z. Ninkov, B. Oetiker, E. Paleologou, L. Rottler, J. Schneider, R.P.S. Stone, 2000. Observational Limits on Terrestrial-Sized Inner Planets Around the CM Draconis System Using the Photometric Method With a Matched-Filter Algorithm The Astrophysical Journal535, 338-349.

Jon Jenkins, Hans-Jorg Deeg, Laurance Doyle, 2000. Ground-Based Photometric Detection of Extrasolar Planets Acta Astronautica46, 10-12.

Hans-Jorg Deeg, J Ellen Blue, Laurance Doyle, V.P. Kozhevnikov, E.L. Martin, J. Schneider, 2000. A Search for Jovian-mass planets around CM Draconis using eclipse minima timing Astron. Astrophys.358, L5-L8.

Martin Heath, Laurance Doyle, R.M. Haberle, M.M. Joshi, 1999. Habitability of Planets Around Red Dwarf Stars: I Insolation, Temperature Regimes, Photosynthetic Productivity & Implications of Flares Origins of Life

Laurance Doyle, J Ellen Blue, Hans-Jorg Deeg, Edward W. Dunham, Jon Jenkins, 1998. Detectability of Terrestrial Extrasolar Planets: UC Lick Observations of CM Draconis JGR Planets

Laurance Doyle, John Billingham, Donald DeVincenzi, 1998. Circumstellar Habitable Zones: An OverviewActa Astronautica42, 559-605.

Laurance Doyle, J Ellen Blue, Hans-Jorg Deeg, Edward W. Dunham, Jon Jenkins, 1996. Ground-based detectability of terrestrial and Jovian extrasolar planets: Observations of CM Draconis at Lick ObservatoryJournal of Geophysical Research101, 14823-14829.

Jon Jenkins, D. Kent Cullers, Laurance Doyle, 1996. A Matched Filter Method for Ground-Based Sub-Noise Detection of Terrestrial Extrasolar Planets in Eclipsing Binaries: Application to CM Draconis Icarus

Laurance Doyle, J Ellen Blue, M Chevreton, Hans-Jorg Deeg, Edward W. Dunham, Jon Jenkins, D.G. Koch, N Kylafis, W-B Lee, E.L. Martin, E. Paleologou, J. Schneider, C Sterken, D Toublanc, N Zinkov, 1995. Ground-Based Observations to Detect Terrestrial and Jovian Planets Around CM Draconis Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society27, 105.

J. Schneider, Laurance Doyle, 1995. Ground-Based Detection of Terrestrial Planets by Photometry: The Case for CM Draconis Earth, Moon & Planets

Laurance Doyle, J.J. Matese, Christopher McKay, Ray Reynolds, Daniel P. Whitmire, 1993. An Examination of Astrophysical Habitats for Targeted SETI Third Deciennial US-USSR Conference on SETI47


Doyle, Laurance, "A Spokesman for Saturn's Rings,", July 6, 2006.

Doyle, Laurance, "Talking with Moon Men,", May 11, 2006.

Doyle, Laurance, "Talking With Your Mouth Full: The Feeding Calls of the Humpback Whale,", January 26, 2006.

Doyle, Laurance, "Urge to Merge: Here Comes Andromeda,", December 8, 2005.

Doyle, Laurance, "The Canary Islands Winter School on Extrasolar Planets,", September 29, 2005.

Doyle, Laurance, "The Legend of Rongo Rongo,", August 25, 2005.

Doyle, Laurance, "Ancient African Skies,", April 7, 2005.

Doyle, Laurance, "Sherlock Holmes and The Case of the Vanishing Robbers, Part 2,", March 17, 2005.

Doyle, Laurance, "Sherlock Holmes and The Case of the Vanishing Robbers,", March 10, 2005.

Doyle, Laurance, "A Moon By Any Other Name,", February 17, 2005.

Doyle, Laurance, "Quantum Astronomy: A Cosmic-Scale Double Slit Experiment,", January 13, 2005.

Doyle, Laurance, "Quantum Astronomy: Knowability and Unknowability in the Universe,", December 16, 2004.

Doyle, Laurance, "Quantum Astronomy: The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle,", November 18, 2004.

Doyle, Laurance, "Quantum Astronomy: The Double Slit Experiment,", November 11, 2004.

Doyle, Laurance, "The Color of the Stars,", January 15, 2004.

Doyle, Laurance, "Detecting Other Worlds VIII: Radio Detection,", March 2, 2002.

Doyle, Laurance, "Detecting Other Worlds VII: Direct Imaging,", February 7, 2002.

Doyle, Laurance, "Changing Phases: Detecting Other Worlds With the Fade In/Fade Out,", November 1, 2001.

Doyle, Laurance, "Time Eclipsing Binary Stars or the 'Do-Si-Do' Method,", October 11, 2001.

Doyle, Laurance, "Circumstellar Habitable Zones V: Planning Far Ahead,", August 26, 2001.

Doyle, Laurance, "Detecting Other Worlds: The Photometric Transit or 'Wink' Method,", August 9, 2001.

Doyle, Laurance, "Detecting Other Worlds: The 'Pulse' Method,", July 19, 2001.

Doyle, Laurance, "Detecting Other Worlds: The 'Flash' (Gravitational Lens) Method,", June 21, 2001.

Doyle, Laurance, "Detecting Other Worlds: The Wobble Method,", May 22, 2001.

Doyle, Laurance, "Circumstellar Habitable Zones IV: What Makes a Friendly Neighborhood?,", March 23, 2001.

Doyle, Laurance, "SETI's Planetary Instruction Kit: Venus and Mars,", February 14, 2001.

Doyle, Laurance, "Circumstellar Habitable Zones in Our Solar System,", January 8, 2001.

Doyle, Laurance, "Our Home Around the Sun,", November 27, 2000.

Laurance Doyle, Christopher McKay, 1991. Exobiological Habitats: An Overview The Search for Extraterrestrial Life -- The Explor 163-172.

Christopher McKay, Wanda Davis, Laurance Doyle, 1991. Liquid Water and Life on Early Mars The Search for Extraterrestrial Life -- The Explor 190-192.

Laurance Doyle, 1988. Progress in Determining the Space Orientation of Stars Bioastronomy: The Next Stepsbook

Nicholas Suntzeff, R. Covarrubias, Laurance Doyle, Thomas Harrison, Stephen Kane, S.R. Miller, M.M. Phillips, 0000. Optical Light Curve of the Type 1a Supernovae 1998bu in M96 and the Supernova Calibration of the Hubble Constant

Wanda Davis, Dana E. Backman, Laurance Doyle, Christopher McKay, 0000. The Habitability of Mars-like Planets Around Main-Sequence Stars Lecture Notes in Physics

Radio show interview: YouThink You're So Smart