Sara Seager

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Sara Seager
Seager 2013 hi-res-download2 1.jpg
Born July 1971 (age 43)[1]
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Residence Concord, Massachusetts
Citizenship Canada-United States[1]
Nationality Canadian-American
Fields Astronomy, Planetary science
Institutions Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2007–)
Carnegie Institution of Washington (2002–2006)
Institute for Advanced Study (1999–2002)
Alma mater Harvard University Ph.D.
University of Toronto B.Sc
Known for Search for extrasolar planets
Notable awards MacArthur Fellowship (2013)
Helen B. Warner Prize (2007)
Harvard Bok Prize in Astronomy (2004)
NSERC Science and Technology Fellowship (1990 - 1994)
Children Two
Website
http://seagerexoplanets.mit.edu/

Sara Seager (born 1971) is a Canadian-American astronomer and planetary scientist. She is a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and known for her work on extrasolar planets and their atmospheres. She is the author of two textbooks on these topics.[2][3] She has been recognized for this research by Popular Science,[4] Discover Magazine,[5] Nature,[6] and TIME Magazine.[7] Seager was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in 2013 citing her theoretical work on detecting chemical signatures on exoplanet atmospheres and developing low-cost space observatories to observe planetary transits.[8]

Background[edit]

Seager was born in Toronto, Canada. She earned the degree of Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and Physics from the University of Toronto in 1994 assisted by a NSERC University Undergraduate Student Research Award and a Ph.D. in astronomy from Harvard University in 1999. Her doctoral thesis developed theoretical models of atmospheres on extrasolar planets.[9] She held a post-doctoral research fellow position at the Institute for Advanced Study between 1999 and 2002 and a senior research staff member at the Carnegie Institution of Washington until 2006. She joined the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in January 2007 as an associate professor in both physics and planetary science, was granted tenure in July 2007,[10] and was elevated to full professor in July 2010.[11] She currently holds the "Class of 1941" chair.[1]

She has two sons with her husband, Michael Wevrick, who died of cancer in 2011.[12][13]

Academic research[edit]

NASA's PlanetQuest referred to her as "an astronomical Indiana Jones".[14] Sara Seager used the term "gas dwarf" for a high-mass super-Earth-type planet composed mainly of hydrogen and helium in an animation of one model of the exoplanet Gliese 581 c. The term "gas dwarf" has also been used to refer to planets smaller than gas giants, with thick hydrogen and helium atmospheres.[15][16]

Seager was awarded the 2012 Sackler Prize for "analysis of the atmospheres and internal compositions of extra-solar planets",[17] the Helen B. Warner Prize from the American Astronomical Society in 2007 for developing "fundamental techniques for understanding, analyzing, and finding the atmospheres of extrasolar planets.[18] and the 2004 Harvard Bok Prize in Astronomy.[19] She was appointed as a fellow to the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2012 and elected to the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada as an honorary member in 2013.[1] In September 2013 she became a MacArthur Fellow.[20]

Seager equation[edit]

Seager developed a parallel version of the Drake equation to estimate the number of habitable planets in the galaxy.[21] Instead of aliens with radio technology, Seager has revised the Drake equation to focus on simply the presence of any alien life. The equation focuses on the search for planets with biosignature gases, gases produced by life that can accumulate in a planet atmosphere to levels that can be detected with remote space telescopes.[21]

N = N*FQFHZFoFLFS

where: N = the number of planets with detectable signs of life

N* = the number of stars observed

FQ = the fraction of stars that are quiet

FHZ = the fraction of stars with rocky planets in the habitable zone

Fo = the fraction of those planets that can be observed

FL = the fraction that have life

FS = the fraction on which life produces a detectable signature gas

Publications[edit]

Books[edit]

  • Deming, D., & Seager, S. eds. 2003, "Scientific Frontiers in Research on Extrasolar Planets", ASP Conf. Ser. 294 (San Francisco: ASP)
  • Seager, Sara (2010). Exoplanet Atmospheres: Physical Processes. Princeton University Press. ISBN 9781400835300. 
  • Seager, Sara (2010). Exoplanets. University of Arizona Press. ISBN 978-0-8165-2945-2. 

Journal articles[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "Curricula Vitae - Professor Sara Seager". 2013. Retrieved 25 September 2013. 
  2. ^ Seager, Sara (2010). Exoplanet Atmospheres: Physical Processes. Princeton University Press. ISBN 9781400835300. 
  3. ^ Seager, Sara (2010). Exoplanets. University of Arizona Press. ISBN 978-0-8165-2945-2. 
  4. ^ "The Fifth Annual Brilliant 10". Popular Science. 13 September 2006. 
  5. ^ "20 Best Brains Under 40". Discover Magazine. 20 November 2008. 
  6. ^ Hand, Eric (21 December 2011). "Sara Seager: Planet seeker". Nature. 
  7. ^ Bjerklie, David (2012). "The 25 Most Influential People in Space". TIME Magazine. 
  8. ^ "MacArthur Fellows: Meet the Class of 2013: Sara Seager". MacArthur Foundation. 24 September 2013. Retrieved 25 September 2013. 
  9. ^ Seager, Sara (1999). Extrasolar giant planets under strong stellar irradiation (PhD thesis). Harvard University. Bibcode:1999PhDT........18S. 
  10. ^ "MIT Corporation grants tenure to 50 faculty". MIT News Office. 14 November 2007. 
  11. ^ "Corporation announces faculty promotions and appointments". MIT News Office. 29 December 2010. 
  12. ^ Seager, Sara (14 January 13). "So Many Exoplanets... So Few Women Scientists". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 25 September 2013.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  13. ^ "Obituary: Michael Wevrick". Ottawa Citizen. 13 August 2011. Retrieved 25 September 2013. 
  14. ^ Rodriguez, Joshua (October 3, 2008). "On a quest for astronomy's holy grail". NASA PlanetQuest. 
  15. ^ "Of Gas Dwarfs and Waterworlds". Celestia forum. Jun 15, 2004. 
  16. ^ "StarGen - Solar System Generator". 2003. 
  17. ^ "Sara Seager Named Co-Winner of the 2012 Sackler Prize". MIT News Office. 18 April 2012. 
  18. ^ "Helen B. Warner Prize". American Astronomical Society. 
  19. ^ "Bok Prize Recipients". Harvard University Department of Astronomy. 
  20. ^ http://www.macfound.org/fellows/903/
  21. ^ a b The Drake Equation Revisited: Interview with Planet Hunter Sara Seager Devin Powell, Astrobiology Magazine 4 September 2013.

External links[edit]