Feb 16 2010 Posted: 00:00 GMT
The next in a series of public talks organised by NUI Galway's Centre of Astronomy will focus on exoplanets. The free event takes place at 7.30pm on Wednesday, 24 February, in the McMunn Lecture Theatre, Arts & Science Building, NUI Galway. The lecture, which will be presented by NUI Galway's Leon Harding, will concentrate on exploring and observing exoplanets, which are planets outside our solar system. Since their initial discovery in 1995, the population of detected exoplanets, or extrasolar planets as they are also known, has increased significantly, with over 400 such planets being discovered to date. Initially, the majority of discoveries were giant planets, sometimes hundreds of times the size of Earth, but in recent years smaller exoplanets have been discovered. Speaking about the lecture, NUI Galway's Leon Harding, said: "Astronomical observations from the surface of the Earth will never be as precise as space based observations and it is via space telescopes that we hope to find true Earth-like planets that can sustain life. With the launch of the Kepler and CoRoT space telescopes in the last decade, which are dedicated to exoplanetary detection and research, astronomers expect to see a large number of discoveries in the coming years. A new telescope, the James Webb Space Telescope, scheduled to be launched in June 2014, will expand the frontiers of discoveries beyond what is possible today". More details of all the talks can be found on http://astro.nuigalway.ie/outreach.php.