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In 1995, two Swiss astronomers became the first to detect a planet in orbit around a far off star similar to our Sun. Since then, more than 400 of these worlds, called exoplanets, have been found. With the discoveries come hopes for finding life outside our solar system.
Stephane Udry, an astrophysicist from the University of Geneva, is part of a team leading the search for exoplanets. In 2007, he was among scientists to discover a celestial body within the “habitable zone” of its solar system in orbit around a red dwarf star called Gliese 581, some 20 light-years away near the constellation Libra. Being in the habitable zone means that any water on its surface could exist in liquid form as it does here on Earth. Could life flourish there, too?
On Sunday, February 28, 2010, Professor Udry invites the swissnex San Francisco audience to join him for an enlightening journey into the questions and methodology behind his work. He’ll explain how astronomers go about searching for exoplanets, how they now view planet formation, and what new findings mean for the future and for the search for life beyond Earth.