Yuval Ne’eman Distinguished Lectures in Geophysics, Atmosphere and Space Sciences Endowed by Raymond and Beverly Sackler
Prof. Nader Haghighipour, Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawaii
Lecture: KEPLER’S DISCOVERY OF NEW HABITABLE WORLDS
The NASA Kepler mission has discovered thousands of new planetary candidates, many of which have been confirmed through follow-up observations. A primary goal of this mission has been to determine the occurrence rate of terrestrial-size planets within the Habitable Zone (HZ) of their host stars (commonly referred to as η-Earth). The process of determining η-Earth requires a reliable list of HZ candidates whose properties have been adequately vetted to produce robust planetary and stellar properties. I will present in this talk the most recent catalog of HZ exoplanet candidates from the entire Kepler data. Our catalog contains 104 candidates within the optimistic HZ and 20 candidates with radii less than two Earth-radii (a requirement for rocky planets) within the conservative HZ. I will also discuss the implications of these findings for the value of η-Earth and the models of the formation of habitable planets.