Visit Pioneer Works on November 7 as Prof. Janna Levin invites NASA’s Kepler Mission Scientist Prof. Natalie Batalha and comparative exoplanetary scientist Dr. Rebecca Oppenheimer to discuss exoplanets, undiscovered life forms beyond our solar system, and if we will ever encounter kindred inhabitants of the Milky Way. Stargazing with Amateur Astronomers Association to follow. AAA members are encouraged to bring a telescope and set it up in the beautiful garden adjacent to the building!
There may be billions of trillions of planets in the observable universe—possibly more planets than there are stars. These exoplanets range from giant storms of pure gas, like Jupiter, to rocky planets, like Earth, orbiting all manner of stars including dead collapsed neutron stars or even black holes. Their landscapes, weather, and astronomical calendars are stranger than science fiction could predict, as though the universe has experimented with every physically conceivable possibility. It seems unsustainable to imagine that only here on Earth has life emerged.
Despite the plethora of exoplanets, we can only observe those closest to us in our neighborhood of the Milky Way galaxy. They are simply too small and too faint to see across vast distances. Still, in our galactic neighborhood, we have already discovered over 4,000 to date. Scientists are scanning these proximate celestial bodies for any signs of life.