May 19, 2017
McIntyre Medical Building, Room 522
A public talk by Dr. Holly Sheets. For thousands of years, we have had only the planets in our own solar system to study. The first extrasolar planets found in the 1990s were mostly "hot Jupiters," planets the size of Jupiter but within the orbit of Mercury. The Kepler Space telescope, launched in 2009, was designed to look for Earth-like planets around Sun-like stars. Kepler has shown us that hot Jupiters are, in fact, a very small fraction of the planet population in our neighbourhood of the Milky Way. The mission also revealed that the overall population of planets was even stranger than we supposed. The most common type of planet is something that does not exist in our solar system at all - super-Earths or mini-Neptunes, planets larger than our rocky planets, but smaller than our gas giants. In this talk, Dr. Sheets will discuss how the changing sample of planets has influenced our models of how planets form. She will also highlight individual planets and systems of particular interest.