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Origin and destiny of planets

Lin, D (UC, Santa Cruz)
Monday 28 September 2009, 17:00-18:00

Seminar Room 1, Newton Institute


Recent discoveries of abundant planetary macrocosms, with diverse masses, sizes, and orbits, post challenges to traditional speculations on the origin and rarity of potentially habitable worlds beyond the visible wanderers in the night sky. The most profound paradigm shift is the mobility of building blocks which promotes the assemblage as well as the destruction of protoplanets and reconstitutes the order of planetary systems. New theories must confront not only relics gathered within the solar system but also signatures of protostellar disks where planetary birth is an ongoing event. Long viewed as a process of stately procession to a foregone conclusion, planetary formation turns out to be startlingly chaotic. The worlds that emerged are the hurly-burlies of competing physical mechanisms. Restless gravitational agitations between individuals lead to unceasing transformation of mature planetary system configurations throughout the lifespan of their host stars. The emergence of habitable worlds and possibility of life elsewhere in the Universe appears to be inevitable. Their eventual discoveries will have fundamental implications on the planetary statistical mechanics, anthropic principle, theory of astrobiology, and the Fermi paradox.


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