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GRP Keynote Lecture: Didier Queloz

It was our pleasure to welcome Prof. Didier Queloz for our first annual Habitability GRP keynote lecture. Prof. Queloz shared the 2019 Nobel Prize in Physics with Michel Mayor and James Peebles, for discovering the first exoplanet orbiting a Sun-like star, 51 Pegasi b. We were treated to a fascinating overview of past, present and future efforts to find life on worlds outside the Solar System. Upcoming missions like JWST and PLATO will probe more effectively than ever before, edging us ever-closer to answering the age-old question: are we alone?

Five reasons future space travel should explore asteroids

While the world reflects on the first flight to the moon and our future on Mars, Dr Dimitri Veras and James Blake from Warwick's astrophysics department think asteroids – the so-called “minor planets” – deserve recognition. Here’s why.

Thu 31 Oct 2019, 10:00 | Tags: Habitability, CEH, asteroids, Astrobiology, KnowledgeCentre, article

New Habitability GRP

We are delighted to announce that Habitability has been selected as one of Warwick's Global Research Priorities (GRPs), which play a crucial role in interdisciplinary research at the University. The GRPs respond to complex multi-faceted global problems that can only be tackled through collaborative research excellence. They unite academics from different disciplines to address some of humanity’s most urgent questions, and create fertile ground for new ideas to flourish and interdisciplinary research to grow - enabling us to improve the lives of people around the world.

The four key themes of the GRP are outlined here. There are a number of funding opportunities for relevant research projects - see here for further detail.

NGTS-4b: A sub-Neptune transiting in the desert

CEH member Richard West leads the fascinating discovery of an exoplanet that falls in the middle of what has been termed the 'Neptunian desert'. This refers to a region close-in to the parent star where previously no Neptune-sized exoplanets had been found. NGTS-4b has a mass 20 times that of the Earth and orbits its star (a 13th mag K dwarf) once every 1.34 days! What's more, it's the smallest planet discovered by a wide-field ground-based photometric survey to date - excellent work!

This study was published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 486, Issue 4, July 2019, Pages 5094–5103

Open access link: arXiv

CEH members involved: Richard West (lead), Daniel Bayliss, James Jackman, George King, James McCormac, Peter Wheatley, David Armstrong, Paul Chote, Ben Cooke, Emma Foxell, Boris Gänsicke, Tom Louden & Don Pollacco

Pondering panspermia - how life could travel through space

James Blake, a postgraduate student in the Warwick Astronomy & Astrophysics Group, gives an overview of his summer project researching the topic of panspermia and applying the theory to the exciting TRAPPIST-1 planetary system.

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