News, Press Releases & Major Announcements
Listed are the major scientific or administrative developments of, or related to, the CSH.
Volcanoes might light up the night sky of this exoplanet
Using state-of-the-art computer simulations, a study led by CSH researchers, published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters, suggests that material inside the exoplanet LHS 3844b flows from one hemisphere to the other and could be responsible for numerous volcanic eruptions.
Susanne Wampfler named as CSH Deputy Director
Former CSH Fellow and astrochemist Prof. Dr. Susanne Wampfler has been named as the CSH Deputy Director effective 1st January 2021. She is the holder of a Swiss National Science Foundation Eccellenza Professorial Fellowship.
A pair of lonely planet-like objects born like stars
An international research team led by Dr. Clémence Fontanive from the CSH has discovered an exotic binary system composed of two young planet-like objects, orbiting around each other from a very large distance. Although these objects look like giant exoplanets, they formed in the same way as stars, proving that the mechanisms driving star formation can produce rogue worlds in unusual systems deprived of a Sun.
Honorary Professorship at University of Warwick
Prof. Dr. Kevin Heng has been appointed a Honorary Professor in the Department of Physics at the University of Warwick with an initial appointment from 1st January 2020 to 31st December 2022. The CSH will seek to collaborate closely with its Centre for Exoplanets & Habitability.
Swiss Society for Astrophysics & Astronomy
The CSH is now an institutional member of the Swiss Society for Astrophysics & Astronomy (SSAA).
Liquifying a rocky exoplanet
A hot, molten Earth would be around 5% larger than its solid counterpart. This is the result of a study led by researchers at the University of Bern. The difference between molten and solid rocky planets is important for the search of Earth-like worlds beyond our Solar System and the understanding of Earth itself.
Iron and titanium discovered in the atmosphere of an exoplanet
For the first time, two teams of researchers from the universities of Bern and Geneva, led by Profs. Drs. Kevin Heng and David Ehrenreich, respectively, have definitively discovered iron and titanium in the atmosphere of an exoplanet. The existence of these elements in gaseous form was theoretically predicted in a companion paper led by CSH Postdoc Dr. Daniel Kitzmann. The observational discovery paper was led by PlanetS Postdoc Dr. Jens Hoeijmakers.
Election to Executive Committee: Junior Members WG of the International Astronomical Union
Ambizione and CSH Fellow Dr. Maria Drozdovskaya has been named the Co-Chair of the Executive Committee of the Working Group of Junior Members of the International Astronomical Union (IAU).
Election to Division F Steering Committee of the International Astronomical Union
Prof. Dr. Kevin Heng has been elected to a 3-year term (2018-2021) on the steering committee of Division F of the International Astronomical Union (IAU).
Unusual collaboration between CSH astrophysicists and ARTORG medical computer scientists
At the University of Bern, astrophysicists from the Center for Space & Habitability (CSH) and medical computer scientists from the ARTORG Center for Biomedical Engineering Research teamed up in an unusual collaboration to apply machine learning methods to interpreting spectra of the atmospheres of exoplanets. Pablo Marquez-Neila and Raphael Sznitman (ARTORG) teamed up with Chloe Fisher and Kevin Heng (CSH) to develop a novel application of the supervised machine learning method of the "random forest".
State-of-the-art mass measurements of the TRAPPIST-1 exoplanets
Led by CSH senior researcher Dr. Simon Grimm, researchers at the University of Bern obtained the most accurate estimates of the masses of the seven Earth-sized exoplanets orbiting the TRAPPIST-1 red dwarf star. Dr. Grimm performed state-of-the-art calculations that combined N-body dynamics with a genetic algorithm to analyze transit timing variations (TTVs) of the TRAPPIST-1 exoplanets.
AAS announces its 2018 prize winners
The American Astronomical Society (AAS), the major organization of professional astronomers in North America, named the recipients of its 2018 prizes for outstanding achievements in scientific research, instrument development, and writing. Prof. Dr. Kevin Heng won the Chambliss Astronomical Writing Award. This is the ninth time the award has been given out by the AAS.
Release of Report on Ultraviolet Direct Imager
Former CSH visitor Dr. Ian Parry led the proposal to ESA of a new idea for a direct imager of habitable exoplanets in the ultraviolet range of wavelengths.
CSH part of LUVOIR Mission Study
Prof. Dr. Kevin Heng is now part of the Science and Technology Definition Team (STDT) of the Large Ultraviolet/Optical/Infrared Surveyor (LUVOIR) mission study led by NASA, with representation from European members.
Seven terrestrial exoplanets around a nearby star
An international team of astronomers, including Marko Seskovic and Prof. Dr. Brice-Olivier Demory of the CSH, has discovered a compact analogue of our inner solar system about 40 light-years away with the data collected from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope.
Bernoulli Fellowships Established
The Bernoulli Fellowships have been created by the CSH. These are 4-year joint positions shared between the CSH and its partner institutes or universities. Our inaugural partners in the Bernoulli Fellows are Oxford University and the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (MPIA) at Heidelberg.
Exoplanets I Conference
The Exoplanets I conference, held at the Davos Congress Center in July 2016, has been awarded funding by the Swiss National Science Foundation (conference grant), the PlanetS NCCR and the Swiss Society of Astronomy & Astrophysics (SSAA). The chairperson of the Scientific Organizing Committee (SOC) is Prof. Dr. Kevin Heng.