How Many New Planets?!

2300! That is the number of known planets that the Kepler spacecraft has discovered.

Dr. Matt Bothwell from the Institute of Astronomy, at the University of Cambridge came to speak about Exoplanets, and how they are discovered by different methods: Transit Photometry and Ellipsoidal Variations being 2 of the methods he talked about. Matt gave a very insightful lecture that also talked about why scientists are interested in discovering new exoplanets, especially those in the Habitable zones around stars, as these may have life on them. There was part of his communication that discussed where space exploration was going i.e. investigating how well humans can live in space long-term, including the Mission to Mars planned for 2024. The session concluded with a 15-minute question session, where the Year 8 students asked Matt all sorts of interesting questions.

Matt's Scientific background: he was a postdoctoral researcher in the Astrophysics Department of the University of Cambridge. He obtained his Master’s degree at the University of Southampton, while carrying out research at the Harvard Centre of Astrophysics. He then returned to the UK in 2007, completing his PhD at the University of Cambridge in 2011. After a year working as a researcher at the University of Arizona, he returned to Cambridge in 2012. Matt is an observational astronomer, who uses a range of state-of-the-art observing facilities to study the evolution of galaxies across cosmic time. Currently Matt also works in Outreach for the University of Cambridge.

Thank you Matt! Judging by the cheers you got, you were a big hit!

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