The Oldest Question Ever Asked By Humanity: Are We Alone?

Datum 01.02.2019
Zeit16:30 Uhr
OrtExWi, 099
Dozent Kevin Heng
Vorlesungsbeschrieb Questioning the immutability of Earth and the plurality of worlds amounted to heresy in antiquity. The challenge to classical thinking about our place in the cosmos was epitomised by the Italian iconoclast Giordano Bruno, who declared, 'There are countless Suns and countless Earths all rotating around their Suns in exactly the same way as the planets of our system.' Decades later, discoveries by astronomers using facilities such as the Kepler and Hubble Space Telescopes have revolutionised our understanding of exoplanets (planets beyond our Solar System, orbiting other stars). We are currently in a golden age of exoplanet discovery with several space missions and observatories to be launched in the coming years. Exoplanet science is high on the priority lists of both NASA and ESA. I will specifically discuss TESS and CHEOPS, the latter of which is an ESA mission led by the University of Bern. I will also discuss one of the four NASA mission studies for the next great observatory, LUVOIR, whose main objective is to detect biosignatures. Part of the ongoing revolution is that astronomers can now measure the chemical compositions of the atmospheres of exoplanets, which allows us to ask quantitative questions about the environments of these distant worlds. For the first time in human history, the search for life beyond the Solar System is quantitative and belongs firmly to the realm of science.

Dieser Vortrag wird in Zusammenarbeit mit Daniel Kitzmann zweisprachig präsentiert, auf Deutsch und Englisch.