The conference will discuss the latest research into the atmospheres of distant planets. Picture: CommunicationinScience/Digital Wisdom

Turning the spotlight on exoclimates

From scorching ‘hot Jupiters’ to ocean worlds and super-Earths, the study of planets outside our solar system is revealing some amazing finds.

Some of the world’s leading experts in studying these far-off worlds, known as exoplanets, are heading to the University of Exeter for a conference to discuss the latest findings in this rapidly developing area of research.

Exoclimes 2010 will bring exoplanet specialists together with Earth and Solar System climatology experts to share knowledge across these fields.

Subjects for discussion are set to include figuring out what types of planets might support life, and how exoplanets can help us understand more about issues such as climate change on Earth.
 
Dr David Sing, from the University’s School of Physics, said: “The study of exoplanets is a very exciting hot topic area of research revealing fascinating discoveries at an astounding pace.

“Exoclimes 2010 aims to push forward that research by bringing together experts from academic and research institutions all over the world to discuss the latest results and future prospects.

“There’s still a great deal to learn, but as we increase our understanding of other planets and their climates, we can also understand more about our own planet.”

Study of planets within our Solar System has already helped to inform understanding of the Earth’s climate, with a runaway greenhouse effect bringing extreme heat to Venus on the one hand but a very thin atmosphere on far cooler Mars on the other.

It is hoped study of planets outside our solar system will bring further insights.

Dr Sing added: “Before we were able to study planets outside the Solar System, we had no idea what was out there — we could only make guesses based on what was already around us.

“Now technology is enabling us to not just see these planets, but start to make observations about their atmospheres. Things are happening so fast that developments are practically from week to week.”

The University of Exeter’s Astrophysics Department is one of the largest groups in the UK studying star formation and exoplanets. It specialises on work such as planet formation, the structure and atmosphere of giant exoplanets, and detecting habitable planets.

Exoclimes 2010 will feature talks from experts at the University and presentations of some of their latest research.
 
Dr Sing added: “We’re hoping that by bringing together experts in climatology on Earth with those who specialise in looking at planets hundreds of light year away, Exoclimes 2010 can help us broaden our knowledge and help push our understanding of planets across the board.”.

To find out more about the event, including a programme of speakers and lectures, log on to www.exoclimes.org

Picture: CommunicationinScience/Digital Wisdom

Date: 26 August 2010

Read more University News