May 10, 2004
Renowned planet hunter Geoffrey Marcy to speak
By Tim Stephens
Renowned planet hunter Geoffrey Marcy, professor of astronomy at UC
Berkeley, will give the Spring Halliday Lecture at UCSC on Wednesday,
May 19, at 8 p.m.
Geoffrey Marcy's research has focused on the detection of extrasolar
planets and brown dwarfs. Photo courtesy
of UC Berkeley
Marcy will discuss "Extrasolar Planets and the Prospects for
Life in the Universe" in his talk, which will take place in Classroom
Unit 2 on the UCSC campus. The event is free and open to the public.
Marcy leads the world's most prolific team of planet hunters, having
discovered more than 70 of the roughly 100 currently known extrasolar
planets (planets outside our solar system).
His team includes UCSC astronomer Steven Vogt, who was Marcy's adviser
when he earned his Ph.D. at UCSC in 1982.
The dozens of new worlds discovered around nearby stars in the past
eight years display a diversity of characteristics and environments
far beyond scientists' expectations. The planets' unexpected properties,
together with the latest discoveries in biology here on Earth, cast
a new light on the prospects for both primitive and intelligent life
in the universe, Marcy says.
Marcy's research has focused on the detection of extrasolar planets
and brown dwarfs. The discoveries by Marcy and his team have allowed
astronomers to study the masses, radii, and orbits of a diverse array
of extrasolar planets. Among these planets are the first multiple-planet
solar system besides our own, the first Saturn-like planets, and the
first transiting planet (passing in front of its star, producing a slight
dimming effect detectable from Earth).
In addition to his position on the UC Berkeley faculty, Marcy is an
adjunct professor of physics and astronomy at San Francisco State University.
His ongoing research focuses on the mass distribution of planets and
the eccentricity of their orbits. Marcy is the director of Berkeley's
new Center for Integrative Planetary Science, a research unit formed
to study the formation, geophysics, chemistry, and evolution of planets.
He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the recipient
of numerous awards, including Discover magazine's Space Scientist
of the Year in 2003, the NASA Medal for Exceptional Scientific Achievement,
the Carl Sagan Award, the Beatrice Tinsley Prize, and the Henry Draper
Medal from the National Academy of Sciences.
Marcy's talk is the fourth Halliday Lecture, a public lecture series
sponsored by the UCSC Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics and the
UC Observatories/Lick Observatory. The Halliday Lecture Series is made
possible through the generous support of John Halliday to promote public
awareness and appreciation for astronomy and astrophysics.
For more information about the lecture, contact the Department of Astronomy
and Astrophysics at (831) 459-3581.
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