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

August 2019: More than 4100 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, the Department of Philosophy, the School of Biology and the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of St Andrews.

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

Centre for Exoplanet Science  –  PhD Scholarship in Literature and Data Science

"Turning Science Fiction into Data Science"

What happens when we treat books as data? Can literary theory ever meet scientific standards? By applying a range of historical and current methods of quantitative analysis to a body of science fiction, this project will investigate claims for objectivity in literary theory. Given that science fiction has successfully predicted future scientific discoveries, the data sets created by different methods of quantitative analysis have the potential to influence not only the future of science fiction, but the course of science itself.
By combining the expertise of a literary researcher, exoplanet scientist, and computational biologist as co-supervisors, this doctoral project will be uniquely placed to discover and critique interrelationships between these disciplines.

Applications are invited for a fully funded PhD position at the University of St Andrews Centre for Exoplanet Science. The project will be jointly conducted and supervised at the School of Modern Languages, the School of Biology and the School of Physics & Astronomy.
Deadline:   16 January 2020
Details:   PhD position advert


CHAMELEON   'Virtual Laboratories for Exoplanets and Planet-Forming Disks'   (Marie Curie Innovative Training Network)

The Centre for Exoplanet Science invites applications for 15 PhD places as part of the Marie Curie Innovative Training Network project CHAMELEON 'Virtual Laboratories for Exoplanets and Planet-Forming Disks'  for double-degrees involving the universities of St Andrews, Antwerp, Copenhagen, Edinburgh, Groningen and Leuven, as well as SRON/Utrecht and MPIA/Heidelberg.

‣  ESR3:  "Cloud formation in 3D exoplanet atmospheres"
‣  ESR5:  "Microphysics of cloud formation: The path to heterogeneous nucleation"
‣  ESR6:  "Charge conservation and cloud formation in planet atmospheres"
‣  ESR7:  "Grain charges and lightning in disks"
‣  ESR8:  "The warm chemistry in the inner disk"
‣  ESR9:  "Machine learning from complex disk models"

Details about the projects and the required application material can be found on the CHAMELEON webpage.
Note that the deadlines vary from December 2019 to February 2020.

The Conversation logo

Ben Sachs published an article in The Conversation:

"Uncivil society: how the political has become personal in our everyday lives" in which he talks about his experience as an exhibitor at Martin Domonic's "A Message from Afar" exhibit at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition this summer.

"All I wanted to talk about was extraterrestrials — should we be trying to make contact with intelligent alien beings? I spent a week asking people this question [...]. The answers I received were, to my surprise, shot through with politics — specifically Brexit — and designed to elicit my own personal perspective. ..."

Les Houches School of Physics

Cloud Academy II

Dates:   8 - 13 March 2020
Venue:   Les Houches School for Physics
Cloud Academy II   will focus on physical models for cloud and haze formation in planetary atmospheres in different radiation environments, and include reviews on exoplanet observations and laboratory studies.
The previous session (e.g. Cloud Academy I ) focused on atmosphere circulation and the general concept of cloud formation in exoplanet and solar system planets. The present session forges a closer link to observations through detailed atmosphere models as exoplanet research is now developing into the characterization of exoplanets. We therefore aim to establish an ongoing effort to help the community keep up to date and exchange ideas on this rapidly developing field.
Application deadline was 15 September 2019.     ( more info )


Future Events

  • 25-27 August 2020, St Andrews   Meeting of the Network of Researchers Chemical Evolution to Life (NoR CEL) (chaired by Martin Dominik and Sohan Jheeta).
  • 21-30 August 2020, Isle of Skye at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig   SUPA/SUSSP Summer School 'Exoplanets and Solar System Dynamics'