Dec 5, 2014


SPEAKER:          Dr. Stephen Kane                    

                           Assistant Professor, Astronomy and Physics

                           San Francisco State University


TOPIC:             Dispelling the Myths and Legends       .                             of the Habitable Zone     

TIME:                   8:00pm  December 5th, 2013
The CSM Planetarium,  Bldg 36, Parking Lot 5   
.                           Free and open to the public


The field of exoplanets has rapidly expanded from exclusively exoplanet detection to include exoplanet characterization.  A key step towards this characterization is determining which planets occupy the Habitable Zone (HZ) of their host stars.  As the Kepler data continues to be processed, orbital sensitivity is increasing and there are now numerous exoplanets known to occupy the HZ of their host stars.

In this talk Dr. Kane will describe the properties of the HZ, its dependence on spectral properties, and the current state of exoplanet detections in the HZ.  Along the way Dr. Kane will attempt to dispel some common misconceptions regarding the Habitable Zone.  Dr. Kane will also relate HZ results to the calculation of 'eta_Earth':  the fraction of Sun-like stars with a planet like Earth.  Finally, Dr. Kane will present several case studies of HZ Kepler planets, including those around the relatively common binary stars (circumbinary planets) where the HZ is extremely complicated and time dependant.



Dr. Stephen Kane is an Assistant Professor in Astronomy and Physics at San Francisco State University.   His primary research interest is detecting and characterizing planets outside our solar system.

Dr. Kane is well traveled.   He was born in Goulburn, Australia, and then promptly moved to Tamworth, the Country Music Capital of Australia.  He gained his love for Astronomy in 1985 when his 6th grade class visited a planetarium and he made it his  goal to one day become an Astrophysicist.  He studied Physics & Astronomy at Macquarie University in Sydney, graduating with 1st Class Honours.  He then accepted a scholarship from the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, USA.

He eventually moved to Hobart, Australia, to complete his Ph.D. at the University of Tasmania.   In April, 2001 he moved to St Andrews, Scotland to begin a Research Fellowship at the University of St Andrews.   In May, 2005 he moved to Gainesville, USA to begin a Postdoctoral Fellowship at University of Florida. He then moved to Pasadena, USA in December, 2007 to join the NASA Exoplanet Science Institute at Caltech as a Research Scientist.  And most recently he moved to San Francisco to become an Assistant Professor at SFSU.

Dr. Kane has been author or co-author on 150 scientific publications, and is perhaps best known internationally as co-author of the groundbreaking, compelling, and controversial paper "A Necro-Biological Explanation for the Fermi Paradox" published on April 1, 2014 which provides a possible explanation for the long-unsolved Fermi Paradox regarding  alien civilizations (Where is everybody?).