When you look up at the sky on a clear night to do ever ask yourself: how many of the twinkling stars have planets, like the planets orbiting our own sun? And how many of those planets might be capable of harbouring life, like the precious planet we live on? Is there some special combination of properties that a star must possess to elevate the chances of it hosting a habitable planet? Or are some sun-like stars just too unsafe for their planets?
Thanks to the launch of the NASA Kepler Mission the past three years have seen dramatic progress in the study of other stellar systems in our galaxy. Kepler has been continuously monitoring the brightness of around 150,000 stars in our galaxy and has to date discovered over 2,000 candidate planets. In order to properly understand the formation, the evolution over time, and the frequency of habitable systems like our own, we must not only find and measure the properties of small rocky planets, but also fully characterise the properties of their host stars. Kepler’s exquisite data has revolutionised the study of stars, in particular thanks to the application of a powerful new technique called asteroseismology, the study of stars by observation of their natural resonances (“music of the stars”).
In this Birmingham Heroes lecture, Professor Bill Chaplin will discuss the leading role that Birmingham is playing in this work. This will be the second Birmingham Heroes lecture to be held in Birmingham and will see Professor Chaplin reprise his ‘Music of the Stars’ lecture given at the Institute of Physics in May 2013.
The event is free of charge, however registration is essential as places are limited.
In Birmingham, we have a long and proud tradition of astronomy research, education, and public engagement. In 1984, we opened our Wast Hills Observatory, where to the present day, Birmingham undergraduates acquire real world technical skills as they design, execute, and analyse their observations of the universe. The West Midlands public flock to Stargazing Live events organised at the University. We are embarking on the development of the Observatory into a flagship scientific facility for the West Midlands, as the centerpiece of a new partnership between our academic staff (professional astronomers), our students, local schools, and the public. Our path begins by refurbishing our 30-year-old telescope. We want to act now to get ready for this exciting future, and need your help to have our new telescope before the end of 2013. In lieu of a ticket price, we encourage you to make a donation, which will go towards refurbishing our telescope in the Observatory.
An astronomy revolution awaits us.