The John N. Bahcall Lecture

Building Stars, Planets, and the Ingredients for Life in Space

Mar 31 2016 - 7:30pm
Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
Free, Tickets Required

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7:00 pm - Meet the lecturer
7:30 pm - Lecture begins
8:30 pm - Stargazing, weather permitting

One of the most exciting developments in astronomy is the discovery of planets around stars other than our Sun. More than a thousand exoplanets have been detected so far.  But how do these planets form, and why are they so different from those in our own solar system? Which ingredients are available to build them?  Thanks to powerful new telescopes, astronomers are starting to address these age-old questions scientifically.  Stars and planets are born in the extremely cold and tenuous clouds between the stars in the Milky Way.  These clouds also contain water and a surprisingly rich variety of organic material. How and where was the water that is now in our oceans on Earth formed? Can these organic molecules end up on new planets and form the basis for pre-biotic material and eventually life?

Ewine F. van Dishoeck, professor of molecular astrophysics at the Leiden Observatory at Leiden University in the Netherlands and winner of the 2015 Albert Einstein World Award of Science will discuss these questions and more at this year’s John N. Bahcall Lecture.

The Museum floor will be open until 6:15 pm the evening of the lecture.  Parking is free after 4:00 pm. 

Telescopes will be available outside the main entrance following the lecture for stargazing, weather permitting. Check the Observatory Twitter or call 202-633-2517 for weather updates. 

The John N. Bahcall Lecture is sponsored by the Space Telescope Science Institute and the Hubble Space Telescope Project/NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.