The 16th Hintze lecture, 25th April 2018 delivered by Professor René Doyon, Director, Mont-Mégantic Observatory & Institute for Research on Exoplanets, University of Montreal, Canada
It is now well established that planetary systems are very common in the Solar neighbourhood, in particular small rocky planets, similar to Earth, around low-mass stars. Thanks to new ground-and spaced-based infrared facilities soon to be deployed, it will be possible not only to find the closest habitable worlds but also to detect their atmosphere and obtain constraints on their composition. This will be a major stepping stone towards the detection of life outside the Solar system. This lecture will highlight recent exoplanet discoveries and present an overview of ongoing and future projects aiming for the detection and characterisation of nearby habitable worlds.
The detection of a biosignature, the evidence for biological activity beyond the Solar System, may be just a few decades away.