Barkla Lecture

`Search for life in the Universe: the exoplanet revolution'

The Thirteenth BARKLA Lecture

will be given on Thursday, 28th November 2019, 4 p.m. in the Muspratt Lecture Theatre, Chadwick Building (Bld. 207, E6 on the campus map), by Didier Queloz, Winner of the 2019 Nobel Prize in Physics with Michel Mayor and James Peebles.

Refreshments will be served from 3:30 p.m. and the lecture will be followed by a wine reception in the foyer outside the lecture hall.

The Barkla Lecture is aimed at a broad audience and undergraduates are cordially invited to attend the event.

Tickets are free and can be obtained via this link on eventbrite.

Search for life in the Universe: the exoplanet revolution

Exoplanet collection identified over the last 25 years ranges from massive and big planets, like our own Jupiter, to smaller denser objects like the Earth. Considering this rich and stimulating landscape the talk will address how likely we may eventually detect life on exoplanets? Professor Queloz will introduce the audience to exoplanet diversity. He will describe what we have learnt about their structure and their formation history. Based on recent works about the origin of life on Earth, he will present new perspectives about the minimum conditions required to allow for the formation of lifes' chemical building blocks. He will describe two different approaches aiming at detecting Earth like systems amenable for future work about the origins of life.

Didier Queloz

Professor Didier Queloz was at the origin of the ”exoplanet revolution” in astrophysics when in 1995, during his PhD with his supervisor, they announced the first discovery of a giant planet orbiting another star outside the solar system. This seminal discovery has spawned a revolution in astronomy and kick started the field of exoplanet research. Over the next 25 years, Professor Queloz's scientific contributions have essentially been to make progress in detection and measurement capabilities of exoplanet systems with the goal to retrieve information on their physical structure to better understand their formation and evolution by comparison with our solar system. More recently he is directing his activity to the detection of Earth like planets and Universal life. In the course of his career he developed astronomical equipment, new observational approaches and detection algorithms. He participated and conducted programs leading to the detection of hundreds of planets, include breakthrough results. Professor Queloz is currently Professor of Physics at the University of Cambridge’s Cavendish Laboratory and Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge. He has participated in numerous documentaries, movies, articles, TV and radio interviews to share excitement and promote interest for science in general and particularly topics about exoplanets and life in the Universe. Professor Didier Queloz has been jointly awarded the 2019 Nobel Prize in Physics along with Professor James Peebles and Professor Michel Mayor for their pioneering advances in physical cosmology, and the discovery of an exoplanet orbiting a solar-type star.


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Last modified: 28 October 2019. If you have any problems, comments or suggestions, please email Susha.Parameswaran(at)