Margaret Turnbull

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Margaret Turnbull
Maggie Turnbull.jpg
At the World Science Festival in June 2008
Nationality United States
Alma mater University of Arizona
Known for Planetary habitability
Scientific career
Fields Astronomy

Margaret Carol Turnbull is an American astronomer. She received her PhD in Astronomy from the University of Arizona in 2004. Turnbull is an authority on star systems which may have habitable planets, solar twins [1] and planetary habitability.

In 2002, Turnbull developed the HabCat along with Jill Tarter,[2] a catalog of potentially habitable stellar systems. The following year Turnbull went on to further identify 30 particularly suitable stars from the 5,000 in the HabCat list that are within 100 light years of Earth.[3]

In 2006, Turnbull drew up two shortlists of just five stars each.[4] The first formed the basis of SETI radio searches with the Allen Telescope Array (Beta Canum Venaticorum, HD 10307, HD 211415, 18 Scorpii, and 51 Pegasi). The second are her top candidates for the Terrestrial Planet Finder (Epsilon Indi, Epsilon Eridani, 40 Eridani, Alpha Centauri B, and Tau Ceti).

In 2007, Turnbull was cited as a "Genius" by CNN for her work cataloging stars most likely to develop planets that could support life and intelligent civilizations.[5]

The asteroid 7863 Turnbull was named in her honor.


  1. ^ staffwriter (1 January 2004). "Gem Sorting for the Next Earth". Astrobiology Magazine. Archived from the original on 28 June 2011. Retrieved 28 September 2012. 
  2. ^ "HabStars: Speeding Up In the Zone". Astrobiology Magazine. 2003. Archived from the original on 4 October 2003. Retrieved 28 September 2012. 
  3. ^ "Stars and Habitable Planets". Archived from the original on 28 June 2011. Retrieved 28 September 2012. 
  4. ^ Lane, Earl (18 February 2006). "Astronomer Margaret Turnbull: A Short-List of Possible Life-Supporting Stars". American Association for the Advancement of Science. Archived from the original on 22 July 2011. Retrieved 28 September 2012. 
  5. ^ Furman, Eric (13 July 2007). "Geniuses who will change your life". CNN. Archived from the original on 17 July 2010. Retrieved 28 September 2012. 

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