There are several tens of billions rocky planets in the habitable zone of stars in our galaxy. Each such planet is an opportunity for life to emerge and evolve, perhaps following a path similar to life on earth, or -most likely- playing out in ways that we have not imagined. Thanks to recent technological advances, the search for habitable exoplanets and exolife is rapidly becoming scientific reality. Large telescopes are imaging and characterizing planets orbiting our closest stellar neighbors, revealing unexpected diversity in exoplanet characteristics. Improved instruments, to be deployed on upcoming large ground and space telescopes, will image habitable planets and probe their atmospheres for signatures of biological activity.
Presenter: Dr. Olivier Guyon, MacArthur Foundation "Genius Grant" Fellow; Subaru Coronagraphic Extreme Adaptive Optics (SCExAO) group leader at the Subaru Telescope; Associate Astronomer, Associate Professor of Optical Sciences, Univ. of Arizona
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