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Category:
Natural Sciences

Lecturer:
Daniel Apai, Department of Astronomy and Steward Observatory, University of Arizona, USA

Place:
Haus der Astronomie, Auditorium, Königstuhl 17

Host:
Heidelberg Initiative for the Origins of Life (HIFOL)

Description:
Abstract: Thanks to NASA’s Kepler mission we now expect tens of billions of earth-sized habitable zone planets to exist just within the Milky Way galaxy. However, we do not know what is the composition and chemical diversity of these planets — consequently, we do not know what fraction of these planets could be truly earth-like. Even the Solar System rocky planets display a significant diversity in properties that stems from differences in their formation and evolutionary pathways. Over the past decades much progress has been made in understanding planet formation, but it remains a challenge to combine the knowledge on planet formation into a powerful predictive tool capable of aiding the identification of systems most likely to host earth-like planets and helping the interpretation of the observed properties of such worlds. Our NASA-funded Earths in Other Solar Systems program is a major interdisciplinary effort to understand how earth-sized habitable zone planets form and acquire their volatiles and organics inventory. Within EOS we carry out fourteen closely coordinated research projects to explore the key aspects of this question: we combine state-of-the-art studies of primitive meteorites and pre-solar grains with protoplanetary disk observations and disk evolution models, with studies of individual exoplanets and statistical studies of the exoplanet population, finally contrasting these with planet formation models. In this talk I will review the major events in the solar system’s formation and compare these with observations of forming and fully-formed exoplanetary systems. I will highlight several key results from our EOS team and show how our developing understanding of exoplanet formation informs target selection and the designs for next generation space missions that may be capable of searching for atmospheric biosignatures.

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