Red terrestrial planets: Searching for evidence for life beyond the Solar System

6 March 2020
Sala d'Actes
Given by: 
Dr. Guillem Anglada-Escudé
Position at: 
Institut de Ciències de l'Espai, CSIC, Campus UAB

Emissió en streaming:



                Red dwarfs, which are stars that are typically born with masses below 0.6 Msun, are the most numerous stars and comprise about 70% of the stellar population in the Solar neighbourhood. Since we rely on indirect methods for detection of exoplanets, this small stars provide a number of advantages for the detection of the smallest planets. While the detection of true Earth analogues and Solar analogues remains beyond current capabilities, today we can detect planets around red dwarfs with bulk properties similar to our own world. The detection method strongly affects the possible follow-up characterization methods and the information that can be obtained from them. Irrespective of the technique, the nearest red dwarfs provide the best opportunities for characterization, and the search for evidence for life by investigating possible out-of-equilibrium chemistries in their atmospheres. I will review the state of the art for the detection of the nearest exoplanets, including Proxima Centauri (nearest star to the Sun, whose planetary system has been identified by our group, the Red Dots collaboration), and describe the methods and characterisation opportunities that these planets will offer within the next decade.


Brief biography

                Guillem Anglada-Escudé is currently a Ramón y Cajal fellow at the Institute of Space Sciences - CSIC, which is also integrated within the Institut for space studies of Catalunya (IEEC, CERCA), and he is coordinating the CSIC Desafio 12.5 "In the search for life beyond Earth". He is known for his research in search and discovery of exoplanets orbiting nearby stars. In particular, he led the team that discovered Proxima b, the exoplanet with properties similar to our own world orbiting Proxima Centauri, the closest start to the Solar System. This discovery and the acccompanying public outreach campaign (Pale Red Dot project) was considered one of the scientific milestones of 2016 (and the decade) and received numerous recongitions worldwide (Nature's 10, Net. Geo 2016 science, TIME 100, altmetrics, Friends of Europe - European Young Leaders 2018, The Guardian Higher Education Awards... just to mention a few). He has worked in several international projects such as the Gaia/ESA mission, and the instruments in ground based facilities such as the CARMENES spectrometer (Calar Alto, Almeria, Spain) and CRIRES+ (VLT @ European Southern Observatory). Guillem obtained his degree in physics at 'Universitat de Barcelona', where he also developed his PhD in space astrometry. He has worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the Carnegie Institution for Science (Washington DC, USA), University of Goettingen (Germany), University of Hertfordshire (UK), and the Queen Mary University of London, where he has been working as a Reader (associate professor) from 2015 to July 2019; at which point he decided to move back to Barcelona. In addition to his research in astrophysics, he is also interested in developing sustainable long term exploration of space. He is the initiator of the Sustainable Off-world Network (, which is a professional multidisciplinary collaboration to promote academic and private sector research into the development of sustainable planetary bases and related activities on the moon and beyond.