Ruckman lecture features search for extrasolar planets

Jason Wright
Jason Wright

The search for planets outside the solar system is the focus of the 2011 Ruckman Lecture, 7:30 p.m., Oct. 21 in the Nebraska Union.

Astronomer Jason Wright from Penn State University will give the free talk, "Exoplanets Abound." Wright will discuss the history of the search for planets outside the solar system, the story of their eventual discovery, and the recent breakthroughs that have allowed the imaging and study of the atmospheres of these planets around nearby stars. He will also discuss the efforts made by astronomers and NASA to detect an Earth-like planet that could host liquid water on its surface.

Wright is a member of the California Planet Survey, a consortium of planet hunters who are using the world's largest optical telescopes to find planetary systems like our own. He also maintains the definitive databases of exoplanetary orbital parameters at and is a member of the Center for Exoplanets and Habitable Worlds at Penn State.

The lecture is made possible by an endowment from alumnus Jerry E. Ruckman, now retired from IBM. Each fall, the series brings to campus a nationally recognized figure in science education. UNL's Department of Physics and Astronomy plans the event to coincide with a dinner in which area physics and astronomy teachers are invited to campus to keep UNL faculty informed about physics education in high schools and to keep area teachers informed of the university and department resources and research opportunities available to them.

— Jean Ortiz Jones, University Communications