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How Close Are We to Finding Earth's Twin?


Community Invited to Free Public Lecture at Trent University on April 6 Featuring Leading Canadian Astrophysicist Dr. Ray Jayawardhana

Monday, March 23, 2009, Peterborough

Trent University invites the community to attend a Galileo Lecture Series presentation on Monday, April 6 at 7 p.m. featuring one of Canada’s leading astrophysicists, Dr. Ray Jayawardhana, who will discuss exciting recent developments in planet hunting.


In his presentation entitled Worlds Beyond: The Diversity of Extra-Solar Planets, Dr. Jayawardhana will discuss the discoveries to date and explore how close we are to finding other planets capable of supporting life.  “We are living in an extraordinary age of discovery,” said Dr. Jayawardhana, who holds a Canada Research Chair in Observational Astrophysics at the University of Toronto.  “Twenty years ago, we knew of only one planetary system: our own. Today astronomers have discovered over three hundred ‘extra-solar’ planets. Several ‘super-Earths’ have already been found, and a true Earth twin might be revealed soon.”


Dr. Jayawardhana is an internationally accomplished scientist who uses some of the world's largest telescopes — including VLT, Subaru, Keck, Gemini and Magellan — to explore the origin and diversity of planetary systems as well as the formation of stars and brown dwarfs.  His research findings have been featured in a wide variety of print and broadcast media around the world.  Dr. Jayawardhana is the recipient of a number of honours and awards including, most recently, the highly competitive Steacie Fellowship, given to Canada’s outstanding and highly promising scientists by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC).


“We are delighted that the Canadian Astronomical Society chose Trent to host Dr. Jayawardhana for one of its prestigious Galileo Lectures,” said Dr. David Patton, chair of the Physics and Astronomy department at Trent University.  "This event will be the focal point of our celebration of the International Year of Astronomy during 2009, and we look forward to sharing this extraordinary opportunity with the community."


The Galileo Lecture Series was developed to bring ten of Canada's most active and articulate leading researchers to selected communities for high-impact public lectures on current topics related to astrophysics. Through these presentations, the Canadian Astronomical Society hopes to introduce the excitement and reach of modern astrophysics to non-traditional audiences and to provide a legacy for the host and the greater community.


Dr. Jayawardhana will be presenting on Monday, April 6 at 7 p.m. in the Wenjack Theatre at Trent University.  This lecture is free and open to the public.




For more information, please contact Professor David Patton, chair of the physics and astronomy department at (705) 748-1011, ext. 7462.