2015 iEYC: Keynote by Prof. Dr. Wambsganß

"In search of Terra-2: Is there a second Earth out there?”

Until 20 years ago it was not known whether our solar system with its planets is unique, or whether other stars in the Milky Way are surrounded by planets as well. The first planet around a solar-type star was detected in 1995. This discovery opened up an entirely new field in astronomy: "Extrasolar Planets" became one of the fastest growing
research branches. Astronomers search for extrasolar planets with a number of different techniques. These methods are all based on simple physical principles. The challenge lies in the extreme accuracy that is required for exoplanet detections. The talk will start with a general introduction to (exo)planets. The various search techniques will be explained and some of the latest results will be presented, in particular the question whether planets around stars are the exception or the rule. Finally it will be discussed whether a "second Earth" may exist out there, whether we would be able to find it, and what the consequences of such a discovery would be.



Prof. Dr. Joachim Wambsganß is a full professor at the Department of Physics and Astronomy of Heidelberg University and Director of the Zentrum für Astronomie der Universität Heidelberg and the Astronomisches Rechen-Institut. He was an associate professor at Potsdam University (1999 – 2004). Prior that he worked as a research associate at the Astrophysical Institute Potsdam (1994 – 1999).

His research interests range from the search for extrasolar planets with the technique of microlensing, through the study of quasars to the investigation of the dark matter distribution in galaxy cluster via the analysis of giant arcs (gravitationally lensed background galaxies). These studies are supported by a number of postdocs, graduate students and undergraduates in his research group.

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