Understanding how unusual Earth is may help humanity to appreciate how special it is.

November 2016: More than 3300 planets are known to orbit stars far beyond the solar system, in planetary systems very different to our own. There may well be hundreds of billions of extrasolar planets in the Milky Way alone. These planets include planetary types not found among the eight planets that orbit our Sun, including mini-Neptunes, super-Earths, rogue or nomad planets and hot gas-giant planets. Are we therefore alone in the Universe? To answer this pertinent question, we seek to understand the formation and evolution of our own solar system and the reasons for this rich planetary diversity.

The Centre for Exoplanet Science brings together researchers from different disciplines to find out how planets form in different galactic environments, how their atmospheres evolve, and the relation between the evolutionary history of planets and the emergence of life. We are further interested in the moral, ethical and technical aspects of detecting existent or extinct extra-terrestrial life in distant exosystems, or within our own solar system, and the significance of such a discovery for our societies.

The Centre for Exoplanet Science builds on the rich legacy of the SUPA Astrobiology initiative.

The Centre for Exoplanet Science currently combines research from the School of Physics & Astronomy (Astronomy), the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, and the Department of Philosophy at the University of St Andrews.

We are affiliated with the   Centre for Exoplanet Science   at the University of Edinburgh.

StA-CES related talks:

17 Sep 2018  StA-CES lunchtime meeting, 1pm, (TBA).
17 Oct 2018  Peter Woitke: "Gas and Dust in Protoplanetary Discs", 1pm, SEES Seminar.
29 Oct 2018  StA-CES lunchtime meeting, 1pm, (TBA).
6 Nov 2018  Christiane Helling: "Sparkling nights and fuming days on the giant gas planet WASP-18b", 1pm, Astronomy Lunchtime Talks, Physics, room 222.

16 Nov 2018  Simon Hodgkin: (title tba), 10am, Physics Colloquium.
23 Nov 2018  Katherine Hawley: "Trust & ethics in science communication", 10am, Physics Colloquium.
26 Nov 2018  StA-CES lunchtime meeting, 1pm, (TBA).

Cloud Academy 2018

Cloud Academy:
Cloud Formation and Properties in Extrasolar Planets

Dates: September 23-28, 2018
Venue: Les Houches Advanced School for Physics
Clouds and hazes have a fundamental impact on the physical structure and appearance of planetary atmospheres and even influence the habitability of earthlike planets. Recent years brought an abundance of data on clouds in exoplanets. In the school we will review physical models for cloud formation in Solar System planets, exoplanet observations, and laboratory studies.
Christiane Helling and Aubrey Zerkle are invited speakers.


Eight ethical questions about exploring outer space that need answers

Ben Sachs just had an article on space exploration and environmental ethics published with THE CONVERSATION.
It also has been printed by the newspaper The Scotsman.

Royal Society of Edinburgh

RSE workshops

Centre members Katherine Hawley and Ben Sachs have been awarded a workshops grant from the Royal Society of Edinburgh, to investigate ethical issues arising from exoplanet science.

Workshop I:   "Environmental Ethics and Value"   6 October 2018, Ben Sachs, St Andrews
Workshop II:   "Purpose in the Universe"   13 October 2018, Tim Mulgan, St Andrews
Workshop III:   "Trust and Public Communication in Science"   (date tba), Katherine Hawley, St Andrews

Recent publications