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On Friday, 2 November Ewine van Dishoeck will give a special public lecture at our faculty. Van Dishoeck is President of the International Astronomical Union, winner of the Kavli prize 2018, and is currently the most cited molecular astrophysicist in the world. In this lecture she will talk about her search for the molecular building blocks of planets and of life. The colloquium is in English.

Ewine van Dishoeck. Photo: Hendrik Sansjo

About the lecture

One of the most exciting developments in astronomy is the discovery of thousands of planets around stars other than our Sun. But how do these exo-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 cold and tenuous clouds between the stars in the Milky Way, and the new ALMA array now allows us to zoom in on planetary construction zones for the first time.  Water and a surprisingly rich variety of organic materials are found, including simple sugars.  Can these pre-biotic molecules end up in comets and ultimately new planets and thus form the basis for life elsewhere in the universe?


11:00 Welcome and introduction by Ralph Wijers
11:05 Colloquium by Ewine van Dishoeck
12:00 Panel discussion with local experts
12:15 Room for questions
12:30 Discussion with students and PhD’s
12:45 End

About Ewine van Dishoeck

Ewine van Dishoeck is professor in Molecular Astrophysics at the Leiden University. Unique in her work is the way she combines chemistry with physics and astronomy. At the moment she is the most cited molecular astrophysicist in the world, and she has received a large number of awards for her work. Most recently the king of Norway awarded her with the Kavli Prize in Astrophysics 2018. This is regarded by many as the Nobel Prize for astronomers. Among her previous awards is the prestigious Dutch Spinoza Prijs (2000), and the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) named her ‘Akademiehoogleraar’, an honorary position given to researchers who belong to the absolute top of their field. Next to her work at the Leiden University, Van Dishoeck was appointed President of the International Astronomical Union last summer.

For whom

This unique science colloquium is open to the public.

When & where

Friday, 2 November, 11:00-12:45
Faculty of Science, Science Park 904, room C1.110