illustration of an exo-planet

Astronomy Lecture: Goldilocks Planets and the Search for Habitable Worlds

Anne Matthews News

Coos Bay, OR – As part of Southwestern Oregon Community College’s 2019-20 Physics and Astronomy Lecture Series we welcome Dr. David Alexander, O.B.E , Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Rice University and Director of Rice Space Institute, to discuss what Sun-Earth interactions can tell us about the habitability of exoplanets around other stars. The lecture “Goldilocks Planets and the Search for Habitable Worlds” will take place on Saturday, March 7, 2020 at 7pm in the Hales Center for the Performing Arts on the Coos Campus, 1988 Newmark Ave., Coos Bay.

Exoplanet discoveries occur on an almost daily basis, with some 4000 planets already confirmed, a further 2000+ candidates in the wings and thousands more waiting to be discovered by the TESS mission. As we transition from a phase of discovery to one focused on detailed characterization and science, it is important to understand how stars and planets interact. The effects of magnetic interactions between the host star and such close-in exoplanets are still not well-constrained. Yet the magnetic and energetic environment at an exoplanet and its impact on the planet are important components of its habitability. In this talk, Dr. Alexander will discuss how our detailed knowledge of the Sun-Earth interaction is being used to explore the energetic impact of stellar activity on these new planets.

Dr. David Alexander is a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, where his primary areas of research are solar physics, exoplanetary physics and earth remote sensing. Alexander also serves as the Director of the Rice Space Institute where he is responsible for providing vision, direction, and leadership, managing the various institute programs, identifying and fostering research opportunities for our faculty, and interacting with government and the space industry. Professor Alexander was recently named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Queen Elizabeth II in the Birthday Honours List of June 2018 for services to US/UK connections in the space industry and higher education.

For further information please contact Dr. Aaron Coyner in the Southwestern physics department at (541) 888-7244 or by email at [email protected].