Exoplanets and how to find them

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A Public lecture presented by:  Dr Andrew Norton (OU)



Twenty years ago, planets around other stars were the stuff of science fiction; yet today that fiction is a reality and we know of around 800 so called exoplanets, with thousands of further possible ones identified. In this talk I will tell a little of the history of this remarkable advance, and show just how exoplanets are discovered, using a range of models and demonstrations. Some highlights from recent discoveries will be discussed, including those from the SuperWASP project which staff at the Open University are involved with, and the prospects for future discoveries of Habitable Earth-like planets will be outlined.


Dr Andrew Norton has worked at the Open University since 1992 and is currently Senior Lecturer in Astrophysics and Associate Programme Director for Physics and Astronomy & Planetary Science, based in the Department of Physical Sciences. He is a Fellow and Council Member of the Royal Astronomical Society and also serves on its Membership Committee and its Committee on Women in Astronomy & Geophysics. He is Director of the OU's George Abell Observatory and was co-Chair of the 2004 RAS National Astronomy Meeting and deputy organiser of the exhibit “Is there anybody out there? Looking for new worlds” at the 2008 Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition. His research interests include observations and modelling of Magnetic Cataclysmic Variables and High Mass X-ray Binaries, as well as general time domain astrophysics, including wide field surveys for binary stars and transiting exoplanets. He is currently a member of the SuperWASP project and part of the UK consortium which is a shareholder in the Southern African Large Telescope. He was a member of the Science consortium for the PLATO exoplanet mission during its proposal phase and is co-editor of the international Exoplanet Newsletter.


Website: www.ras.org.uk