Research Fellows Directory
Professor Didier Queloz
University of Cambridge
Are there other planets like Earth? Do they host life? These questions are deeply embedded in the human psyche and inspire theories about our origins and destiny. In this new millennium, the quest for life in the Universe is one of our greatest scientific, technological, and philosophical undertakings. Its outcome will have profound effects on our understanding of the Universe and our place within it.
The discovery of planets around a thousand other stars has revolutionised our understanding of planet formation and the likelihood of finding other life in the Universe: planetary systems orbiting stars are common but exhibit vastly diverse configurations. This has stimulated a fast-growing new research community.
These measurements, previously restricted to planets in our solar system, have opened the door to a true characterisation of exoplanets not only in terms of physical parameters but also in terms of habitability.
The many recent discoveries of planetary systems harbouring Neptune-mass planets and super- Earths clearly indicate that low-mass planets around solar-type stars must be very common.
For the next decade, my main research objective is to conduct a coherent effort towards the detection and characterisation of planets with the goal of advancing our understanding of their formation, their structure, and eventually their habitability.
My activity aims as well at increasing the involvement and the leadership of Cambridge and UK in exoplanets sciences. My long-term vision is to build up around Cambridge a truly multi-disciplinary national centre of competence for the search, characterisation and study of planetary systems and their suitability to harbour life. With Cambridge MRC we started a pilot program to jointly address the question of life in the Universe. The recent detection of a planetary system of three Earth size planets on TRAPPIST-1, an ultra cool star, make this goal much closer than one thought.
Interests and expertise (Subject groups)