Weekly Space Hangout: October 30, 2019 – Evelyn MacDonald on Finding Earth-Like Planets

Fraser Cain (universetoday.com / @fcain)
Dr. Brian Koberlein (BrianKoberlein.com / @BrianKoberlein)
Beth Johnson (@planetarypan)
Michael Rodruck (@michaelrodruck)

Tonight we welcome Evelyn MacDonald to the show in a PRERECORDED INTERVIEW with Fraser during which she discusses her thesis-turned-published-journal-article, something which rarely occurs.

Evelyn MacDonald is a recent Physics graduate from McGill University. For her thesis, she mapped the Earth’s transit spectrum using data from the Atmospheric Chemistry Experiment (ACE). Using the Earth’s spectrum as a “fingerprint” of sorts, Evelyn theorized that transit spectra of Earth-like exoplanets orbiting smaller stars could then be modeled as they would be observed by the James Webb Space Telescope. This would then allow scientists to recognize Earth-like atmospheric compositions based on the molecular features in an exoplanet’s transit spectrum.

On August 28, 2019, with Evelyn listed as Lead Author and her advisor, Professor Nicolas Cowan as co-author, her thesis was published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, and can be read online here: https://academic.oup.com/mnras/article/489/1/196/5552693.

You can learn more about Evelyn and her research here: https://reporter.mcgill.ca/student-project-could-help-astronomers-search-for-earth-like-planets/


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