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Earth 2.0 seminar explores exoplanets

September 29, 2016

Morgan Bernard
Staff Reporter | mrb056@latech.edu

Angelle Tanner spoke to students in Carson Taylor about exoplanets, or planets that are Earth-like and habitable for human life. Photo by Colin Fontenot.

Angelle Tanner spoke to students in Carson Taylor about exoplanets, or planets that are Earth-like and habitable for human life. – Photo by Colin Fontenot.

 

 

A science seminar was held in Carson Taylor Hall Thursday, Sept. 22, the topic of which was literally out of this world.

 

The Earth 2.0 seminar was a discussion about finding a new Earth-like planet that is habitable for human life. The seminar explained how exoplanets are located and then further studied.

 

Angelle Tanner, an assistant professor from the physics and astronomy department of Mississippi State University, was the key speaker of the seminar. She explained the latest updates in discoveries of planets that have potential of being our new home. She also talked about what instruments and techniques are used to study the exoplanets.

 

Tanner was invited to Tech by a collaboration between the physics department and the Society of Physics Students to discuss Earth 2.0 and its possibilities.

 

“We are looking for a potential new home because we may need one soon,” Tanner said. “We are trying to figure out where our future generations can go.”

 

She talked about the several steps NASA and other organizations are going through to discover this new home. A habitable planet must have characteristics similar to Earth such as its mass, location and atmosphere.

 

“We are looking for planets that are rotating around a star that is not too far or close to the planet’s surface, similar to our Earth and the sun,” Tanner said.

 

She said Earth 2.0 must also have liquid water on its surface, certain gases in the atmosphere and a close proximity to the Earth.

 

“Travelling to a planet that is light-years away is probably not our best option, so we are looking at the stars that are closest to us and then working out from there,” Tanner said.

 

Sarah Pazos, a junior physics major, thought that the seminar was a success for the physics department.

 

“I believe the students really gained a greater understanding of the methods of exoplanets,” Pazos said. “It explained, really well, a complex topic in terms that undergrad students could understand.”

 

The SPS Treasurer also said she enjoyed the seminar and learned many new things about exoplanet research.

 

“What really stood out for me were the different examples of planets that were close to Earth in size or mass,” Pazos said. “I was surprised by how many they have already found and identified.”

 

The Earth 2.0 seminar further educated its audience on exoplanets and how they are discovered and examined.

 

“Dr. Tanner was a great speaker and the topic captivated me from beginning to end,” Pazos said. “It just reinforced my interest in a career in astrophysics.”

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