Planet Hunting – With Guest Dr. Eric Mamajek (Part 2)

February 18, 2013
Planet Hunting: Your Universe Today Podcasts
Microphone Image Credit: Dr. Cloud / Shutterstock

John P. Millis, Ph.D. for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online

While mankind has searched the heavens for thousands of years, it has only been in recent decades that we have begun to truly grasp the nature of planets and how they form. Most recently, this work has been advanced by experiments like NASA’s Kepler mission, which has already revealed a plethora of planets within our own galactic neighborhood. … And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

But beyond the mere discovery of a host of new planets and planet candidates, these experiments have also shed light on several unexpected characteristics of these new worlds – characteristics that are forcing astronomers to question some of their most basic assumptions about the evolution of planetary systems.

In the second part of our three-part series on planets, we’ll take a look at the relatively new field of planet hunting. Joining us again is Dr. Eric Mamajek, Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy at University of Rochester. In this podcast, Dr. Mamajek will discuss the latest techniques used by astronomers to identify and characterize planetary systems as well as some of the surprises that these new research methods have turned up. He’ll also share his thoughts on the future of planet hunting and what we can expect from this exciting new field in the coming years.

Listen to parts one and three of the interview, “How Planets Form” and “The Search For Alien Life.”


Eric Mamajek is Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy at University of Rochester. He received his B.S. in Astronomy and Astrophysics, and Physics, from Pennsylvania State University in 1998 before completing a M.Sc. in Physics from The University of New South Wales/ADFA in 2000, and a Ph.D. in Astronomy from The University of Arizona in 2004. After his Ph.D. he was a Clay Postdoctoral Fellow at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, and he joined the faculty at University of Rochester in 2008.

His primary research interests are understanding the formation and evolution of stars, planetary systems, substellar objects, and circumstellar disks in our Galactic neighborhood. He has coauthored over 80 refereed astrophysics journal papers, and his research has been supported by awards from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). In 2012, his research group announced the discovery of the first ring system outside the solar system which transits a young Sun-like star, and in 2010 he and his collaborators discovered a faint stellar companion to the famous star Alcor in the Big Dipper.

comments powered by Disqus
Word of the Day
  • A murmuring sound; a rushing or whistling sound, like that of the wind; a deep sigh.
  • A gentle breeze; a waft; a breath.
  • Any rumor that engages general attention.
  • A cant or whining mode of speaking, especially in preaching or praying; the chant or recitative characteristic of the old Presbyterians in Scotland.
  • To make a rushing, whistling, or sighing sound; emit a hollow murmur; murmur or sigh like the wind.
  • To breathe in or as in sleep.
  • To utter in a whining or monotonous tone.
According to the OED, from the 16th century, this word is 'almost exclusively Scots and northern dialect until adopted in general literary use in the 19th.'