Western's College of Science and Engineering will host the next installment in its popular Science and univerCity Lecture Series from 7-8 p.m. on Wednesday, April 26, in Bellingham City Council chambers, as Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy Kevin Covey presents "The Worlds Next Door: Shedding light on planets that orbit the dimmest stars."
Red dwarfs are the smallest, coolest, dimmest stars in the galaxy. They are also the most common type of star, however, and the most promising targets in the search for habitable Earth-like planets. In just the last year, a potentially Earth-like planet has been detected orbiting Proxima Centauri, a red dwarf that is the nearest star to our own Solar System, while the red dwarf TRAPPIST-1 was discovered to host a compact system of six or more planets.
In this lecture, Covey will explore the methods used to detect planets outside our own solar system, and how red dwarfs are uniquely suited to discovering and studying the properties of Earth-like planets. He will also discuss how a red dwarf's history and characteristics could help or hinder the emergence of life on these planets, and astronomers' future plans to explore the worlds next door.