RASC Mississauga: Exoplanetary Update: Proxima Centauri b

Artist's impression of the surface of the planet Proxima b orbiting the red dwarf star Proxima Centauri (Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser)
Friday, May 26, 2017 - 8:00pm

Speaker: Professor Paul Delaney, York University

The first exoplanet was found orbiting a Sun-like star in 1995. In the intervening 20 years, thousands of exoplanets and exoplanetary candidates have been detected suggesting that exoplanets are very common. That of course does not imply the Earth-like planets are common but again, recent statistics suggest that at least one star in 6 contains an Earth-like planet. With the detection of an exoplanet in the Habitable Zone of Proxima Centauri b, speculation and excitement has been aroused about the possibility of exploring that planetary system during the 21 st century. Project Starshot even suggests that such a launch maybe only 20 years or so away. This presentation will summarize the state of exoplanetary research and look at the likelihood of exploring the Proxima Centauri star system in the relatively near future.

Paul Delaney was born in South Australia and received his Bachelor of Science degree from the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia in 1978 and his Master of Science from the University of Victoria, British Columbia in 1981. Since that time, he has worked as a nuclear physicist for Atomic Energy of Canada and a support astronomer at McGraw Hill Observatory near Tucson, Arizona.

He has been a member of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at York University since 1986. He is a Senior Lecturer teaching a variety of astronomy related courses to science and non-science students. In addition he is the Coordinator of the campus Astronomical Observatory which offers a teaching laboratory environment for science students studying astronomy and extensive Public Outreach access to the community. Between 2002 and 2016 he was the Director of the Division of Natural Science, an academic unit that exposes nearly 12,000 undergraduate students annually to the world of science. He was the Master of Bethune College, one of York’s 8 undergraduate student Colleges, from 1994 until 2005.

He is a passionate educator and delights in discussing the wonders of the universe with people of all ages. Along with his undergraduate Observing Team, he coordinates an extensive Public Outreach program in astronomy including hosting a 1 hour internet radio program ‘YorkUniverse” every Monday evening (on astronomy.fm). He considers himself an amateur as well as professional astronomer and has been interested in astronomy and space science for as long as he can remember. He has been the recipient of York University’s Faculty of Science and Engineering Teaching Award (1991), a ‘top 10’ finalist in TV Ontario’s Best Lecturer competition (2005), a recipient of the University Wide Teaching Award (2006), was the winner of the Royal Canadian Institute’s 2010 Sanford Flemming Medal for outstanding contributions to the public understanding of science amongst Canadians, the 2015 recipient of the Qilak Award from the Canadian Astronomical Society recognizing his ongoing commitment to the public awareness and understanding of astronomy and was awarded in 2016 a University Professorship (essentially lifetime achievement) from York University.

Who can attend: Everyone
Fee: Free
Reservations: Not required
Organized by: RASC - Mississauga Centre
Location: University of Toronto Mississauga, William Davis Building, Lecture Hall SE2082, 3359 Mississauga Road, Mississauga, ON  L5L 1C6. Enter off Mississauga Road. Park in lot 4 or the parkade across from the fitness centre south of the Davis Building. Enter through the Fitness centre, walk up the stairs until you reach the main corridor then turn right. (If you need an elevator, follow the corridor to the right of the stairs, then go up to the main floor.) Look for the Mississauga Centre sign in front of the lecture room.