Place: 4421 Sterling hall, Coffee and Cookies at 3:30 PM
Speaker: Professor John Johnson , Harvard CfA
Abstract: Just four years ago the prospect of finding rocky planets around other stars was still the subject of science fiction—none had been found and reasonable estimates put us decades away from such momentous discoveries. All of that has changed very recently on the heels of the extraordinarily successful NASA Kepler mission. I will provide an overview of Kepler science and the new view it has provided us on the demographics of exoplanets throughout the Galaxy. In addition to the statistics of exoplanets, I will also show highlights from the many unusual individual discoveries that have expanded our understanding of planet formation and allowed us to view our Solar System within a much broader context than ever before, including: Hundreds of new planets from the extended Kepler K2 Mission, a disintegrating planetesimal orbiting a white dwarf, and updates on the number of (and nearest) Earth-like, habitable zone planets in the Galaxy.