News, Press Releases & Major Announcements

Listed are the major scientific or administrative developments of, or related to, the CSH.

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

Results of Divisons and Commissions Committees Electios

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

What the TRAPPIST-1 planets could look like

Led by CSH senior researcher 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

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

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

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.