Vancouver Astronomy Monthly Meetup

  • January 10, 2013 · 7:30 PM
  • This location is shown only to members

This is the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada - Vancouver monthly meeting for January 2013 and is shared with the general public at no charge.

Please join us for an interesting and informative lecture! After the presentation we serve up astro-coffee, cookies, juice, along with stimulating conversation.

Please take special note of the location for this lecture:

The RASC Vancouver public lecture for Thursday January 10 will be held at the UBC Hennings Physics Building, Room 201. The lecture starts at 7:30PM.

For directions, please consult the UBC Wayfinding site:

The North Parkade and the UBC bus loop are about a five-minute walk from the Hennings Building.


Professor Jaymie Matthews
Department of Physics & Astronomy
University of British Columbia


The extended Kepler mission to find exoplanets: To know the planets, you must know the stars


What are the the structures and atmospheric compositions of exoplanets (planets beyond the Solar System)? Do they have strong magnetic fields and if so, how do those fields interact with their parent stars? What are the properties of those stars and their flare and spot activities? These questions are key to answering the question: "Can an exoplanet support life as we know it?" Accurate stellar properties are required for accurate values of exoplanet sizes and masses, and to understand the conditions on (and inside) those worlds.

Three space telescopes (Canada's MOST, France's CoRoT and America's Kepler) which monitor the light variations of stars and planetary systems with unprecedented precision and time coverage, are starting to provide answers to these questions.

How?  For the planets, through monitoring of (a) exoplanet transits and eclipses, and (b) variations in the parent stars induced by those exoplanets. For the stars, through (a) asteroseismology (inferring internal structure through stellar surface vibrations) and (b) charting variations due to rotation, activity, mass loss and accretion. Soon, there will be a fourth space mission, BRITE Constellation (a Canadian-Austrian-Polish collaboration) to extend this effort into uncharted regions of astrophysical parameter space.

The NASA Kepler satellite mission has recently been extended beyond its planned 3½-year life to 2016. Kepler's revised mission is now mainly to specify the statistics of the exoplanets it discovers through detections of transits among the more than 150,000 stars it is monitoring. What are the planets' orbital parameters and diameters?  To answer this question, it is vital to understand the true nature of the parent stars of these planets. If the stellar sizes are wrong, so are the planetary sizes.  We can be fooled into thinking we’ve found an exoEarth in the Habitable Zone of its parent star, when in fact the planet is larger than Earth, or its orbit is too close to the star for liquid water oceans.  We can also miss habitable Earth-sized exoplanet candidates.

I've been charged by the Kepler mission to co-lead a team to produce an improved catalogue of parameters (e.g., mass, radius, surface gravity, effective temperature, luminosity class) of the Kepler sample of stars.  This catalogue is a ‘moving target’, which will be updated to keep pace with more (and better) data.

In this talk, I'll describe the Kepler mission, its "census"of planets (which will likely be more than 1000 confirmed worlds by early 2013), and some of the key results.  I'll chart the future course of Kepler and how we hope to better understand the parent stars so we can better understand their families of planetary children.

Join or login to comment.

  • James

    How do I find out about the February meeting ?

    February 4, 2013

  • Beth

    I found it.

    February 3, 2013

  • Beth

    Where do I find out more about the February meeting?

    February 3, 2013

  • Art P.

    I'm sorry I ended up missing Thursday's meeting; I have always enjoyed Dr. Matthews' talks on a variety of subjects.

    January 14, 2013

  • Iveta

    Excellent! I still wonder how exactly they measure the brightness of the stars. Thank you for the presentation and the interesting conversation after incl. refreshments.

    January 13, 2013

  • Sean H.

    Jaymie gave an absolutely fantastic presentation and I was able to meet several members at my first meeting. Hope everyone got a chance to take a peek at Jupiter courtesy of the UBC astronomy club's telescopes on their way out.

    January 11, 2013

  • Gabor S.

    Jaymie Matthews is a superb speaker, and the topic (the search for extrasolar planets) is surely one of the most interesting scientific endeavours today!

    January 11, 2013

  • David A.

    Superb, very informative lecture! The concepts were all covered clearly and with humour. It was great to be amidst so many astronomy aficionados.

    January 11, 2013

  • ilaria


    January 10, 2013

  • Anthony M.

    eXellent! Very understandable terminology and remarkably math-free!

    January 10, 2013

  • Terry M.

    As always, Jaymie Matthews was a simply brilliant speaker.

    January 10, 2013

  • Anthony M.

    Brilliant lecture. Totally understandable without an astrophysics degree!

    January 10, 2013

  • Doug

    Love to go, but just to much transit that late at night to get back to meetup for sure for me!

    January 8, 2013

  • Elvis D.

    This will be my first meeting, I am looking forward to sitting and listening to the discussions. I am a late starter, so will be very happy being a quiet observer. I look forward to seeing you all next week.

    January 3, 2013

    • Leigh C.

      Hi Elvis, I look forward to meeting you as well and I know my fellow members of RASC look forward to meeting you. You have picked a meeting with a great speaker to be your first. I encourage you to stick around for coffee, cookies and conversation afterward.

      January 4, 2013

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