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Public Outreach

The Search for Extrasolar Planets

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Prof. Chris Tinney

ARC Professorial Fellow
Department of Astrophysics
School of Physics
University of NSW

Abstract

There can be few questions more fundamental for a scientist's research to address than "Is our home here on Earth unique? Or ubiquitous?" Astronomers involved in the search for - and the study of - extra-solar planets are fortunate enough to have this sort of question driving their daily activities. The exoplanets that astronomers have been finding over the last two decades have a bewildering array of properties and architectures - and the vast majority look nothing at all like our Solar System. Nonetheless, the drive to identify systems that look like our own, and to understand how the rest of the systems we have found were actually formed, continues unabated. Chris Tinney will deliver an update on all this work from the front lines.

Biography

Chris Tinney is an Australian Professorial Fellow at the University of New South Wales, where he heads up a group of exoplanetary scientists seeking to unravel the bewildering array of exoplanets being discovered on an almost daily basis around nearby stars. Chris grew up in Sydney, and completed an undergraduate degree in Physics at the University of Sydney. He did a PhD on the search for "The Faintest Stars" at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California which completed in 1992. He was then a Fellow at the European Southern Observatory in Munich, Germany. He returned to Australia in 1994, and worked at the Anglo-Australian Observatory up until 2007, when he moved to UNSW. Over the last decade he has been heavily involved in searches for exoplanets and brown dwarfs using telescopes in Australia and elsewhere.