For the first time, we humans are surveying the nearest stars to detect planetary systems. The key question is whether our Solar System is special in some way that might explain the proliferation of life on the third planet. Our search is revealing the masses and orbits of the planets around nearby stars.
About the Speaker: Geoffrey Marcy is Professor of Astronomy at the University of
California, Berkeley. Before moving to Berkeley in 1997, he was a
Distinguished University Professor at San Francisco State
University. Dr. Marcy's research is focused on the detection of
extrasolar planets and brown dwarfs. His team has discovered several
dozen extrasolar planets, allowing study of their masses, radii, and
orbits. Among the planets is the first multiple-planet system, the
first Saturn candidates, and the first transiting planet. Ongoing work
is designed to study the mass distribution of planets and the
eccentricity of their orbits. The 5-year goal is to find Jupiter
analogs around other stars.
His discovery of extrasolar planets was just recognized by the National Academy of Science by the awarding of the Henry Draper Medal to Marcy and his long-time collaborator, Paul Butler. Marcy was California Scientist of the Year in 2000 and received the Manne Siegbahn Award from the Physics Committee of the Swedish Academy in 1996. Dr. Marcy is the first director of the Center for Integrative Planetary Science at UC-Berkeley, designed to study the formation, geophysics, chemistry and evolution of planets.
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