Date: Friday 13th October | Time: 4.45pm – 5.45pm
Dr Guillem Anglada
Guillem Anglada-Escude was born in 1979 in the heart of a middle class Catalan family. His PhD thesis (2007) at University of Barcelona was devoted to the Gaia Space Astrometry mission(ESA). Afterwards, he obtained a postdoctoral fellowship to work at the Carnegie Institution for Science (Washington DC), where he worked with exoplanet pioneers (Alan Boss and Paul Butler). In 2011, he developed a suite of algorithms which led to unprecedented Doppler precision on red-dwarf stars such as and applied it to existing datasets. In 2012 he moved to University of Goettigen (Germany) and joined forces with Mikko Tuomi to develop global optimization methods for the analysis of time-series (2012). Several new potential small planets were identified, including most of the temperate super-Earths around the nearest stars. Some of the claims were not widely accepted by the community and still remain controversial. However, their approach was shown to be the most robust one on the double-blind test exercise organized in Yale 2015. In Sep 2015, Guillem was appointed as Lecturer at Queen Mary University of London. In 2016, Guillem lead the ‘Pale Red Dot’ campaign which lead to the robust detection of Proxima b, the nearest exoplanet to the Solar System.
Red dwarf planets and the search for life beyond the Solar System
The existence of Proxima b -a possibly terrestrial planet in the habitable zone of the nearest star to the Sun- is a lucky concidence but not an event of cosmic fortune. Red dwarf stars that cannot be seen via naked eye are the most common stars in the Galaxy (about 70% of them) and detecting small, rocky, temperate and potentially habitable planets is way easier than around more massive stars like our Sun. I will put the discovery of Proxima b in the context of exoplanet detection and what we know in terms of the galactic abundance of planets around these stars. The smallness of the star also means that the planet-star contrast is better for potential follow-up studies such as atmospheric characterization and future attempts of direct imaging it. Looking into the future, the existence of terrestrial planets so close to our Sun has renewed the interest on advanced concepts to obtain direct images of them, and even sending interstellar probes within the next century.
Images below Credit ESO