Graduate Student - Dept. of Astronomy
Contrary to popular perception, the Sun is not a typical star. Roughly 75% of stars in the galaxy are actually smaller and cooler stars known as red dwarfs. Because most stars are red dwarfs, quantifying the fraction of red dwarfs that host planets and exploring properties of those planets is critical for advancing our knowledge of the overall population of planets in the galaxy. I will explain how the exquisite data obtained by the NASA Kepler mission has allowed us to estimate the fraction of red dwarfs that host potentially habitable planets and make a prediction about the distance to the nearest habitable planet. I will then describe how we will search for nearby planets using upcoming Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite and explore the potential for studying the atmospheres of possibly habitable worlds with the James Webb Space Telescope and the next generation of extremely large ground-based telescopes.