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Student Colloquium, Astrid Guldberg Theil: Observing exoplanets using the Sun’s gravitational field

Info about event


Thursday 3 November 2022,  at 14:15 - 15:00


Fys. Aud.

Supervisor: Frank Grundahl

When we humans look out into the universe, a longing to find someone that looks like us as well as places like the Earth emerges. We are currently looking at the nearby stars in the Milky Way to search for planets that might host life as we know it. However, it is only possible to determine the mass, radius and orbital radius of the planet as well as the host star’s radius and mass, and even though this tells us a lot about the planetary system, is it not possible to see if there is life. If we were able observe the planet’s surface, we might see continents, maybe huge, green forests and in the best-case scenario, light from cities on the night side of the planet. With the current telescopes this is not realistic, as the telescopes would be bigger than the radius of Earth, and they would have expose for too long. But according to Einstein’s general theory of relativity, the Sun bends light passing through its gravitational field, creating a gravitational lens. Maybe we can see the surface of an exoplanet in our lifetime?