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The Chemistry of Planet Formation and the Making of Habitable Planets

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Eddingtion Lecture 2018

There is an exciting subset of exoplanets that have been identified as potentially habitable based on their bulk compositions and surface temperatures. How often do these potentially habitable planets contain the necessary ingredients for life: water and feed-stock organics that can react to form the building blocks of life? I will address this question by considering the chemical composition and evolution of the formation sites of planets. Planets form in disks composed of dust, ice and gas around young stars. The study of these disks has recently taken a leap forward thanks to the arrival of the Atacama Large Millimetre and submillimetre Array (ALMA). ALMA has enabled chemical imaging of planet-forming disks, including direct constraints on the distributions of volatiles and small organic molecules of relevance to origins of life. I will present some of the most surprising ALMA discoveries, and how they together with models, laboratory experiments and observations of other circumstellar environments are informing our view of the chemical environments within which planets form, and further the chemical compositions of nascent planets.

This talk is part of the The Eddington Lectures series.

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