Planets bigger than Jupiter that orbit their suns in less than an Earth week. Planets with two suns. Planets with oceans of tar. Planets with perpetual night and others with perpetual day. These places are the stuff of science-fiction...aren't they? Join astrophysicist Elizabeth Tasker, author of the nonfiction The Planet Factory: Exoplanets and the Search for a Second Earth and science-fiction author Valerie J. Mikles at East City Bookshop for an exploration of the universe and a journey into the possible--and the impossible.
Q&A and booksigning will follow the author talk.
More about the books and authors
The Planet Factory: Exoplanets and the Search for a Second Earth by Elizabeth Tasker
Twenty years ago, the search for planets outside the Solar System was a job restricted to science-fiction writers. Now it's one of the fastest-growing fields in astronomy with thousands of exoplanets discovered to date, and the number is rising fast.
These new-found worlds are more alien than anything in fiction. Planets larger than Jupiter with years lasting a week; others with two suns lighting their skies, or with no sun at all. Planets with diamond mantles supporting oceans of tar; possible Earth-sized worlds with split hemispheres of perpetual day and night; waterworlds drowning under global oceans and volcanic lava planets awash with seas of magma. The discovery of this diversity is just the beginning. There is a whole galaxy of possibilities.
The Planet Factory tells the story of these exoplanets. Each planetary system is different, but in the beginning most if not all young stars are circled by clouds of dust, specks that come together in a violent building project that can form colossal worlds hundreds of times the size of the Earth. The changing orbits of young planets risk dooming any life evolving on neighbouring worlds or, alternatively, can deliver the key ingredients needed to seed its beginnings. Planet formation is one of the greatest construction schemes in the Universe, and it occurred around nearly every star you see. Each results in an alien landscape, but is it possible that one of these could be like our own home world?
Elizabeth Tasker is an astrophysicist specialising in computational models of how stars and planets form in our galaxy. After a degree in theoretical physics, she went on to complete her doctorate at Oxford before moving across to the United States and Canada for postdoctoral research positions. In 2011 she became an assistant professor at Hokkaido University in the north of Japan, and moved to the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) as an associate professor in 2016. Elizabeth has been a keen science communicator for many years, dating back to winning the Daily Telegraph Young Science Writers Award in 1999. Since then she has written for Scientific American and Astronomy Magazine, as well as blogs on sites that include Nautilus, the Conversation and space.com.
The Disappeared by Valerie J. Mikles
Bounty hunter and spaceship pilot Corey is desperate to escape her abusive ex-lover Ivan LaMark, but joining the crew of the honest trade vessel, Oriana, hasn't quite been the escape she hoped for. When she stumbles upon the bounty of a lifetime--one of the Disappeared. The Disappeared are political refugees who have literally vanished from the lunar surface. Finding one, Corey knows she could be set for life, ensuring her escape from her former lover for good. But, naming her price has put her directly in the crosshairs of the lunar Guard, Oriana's crew, and, even worse, Ivan LaMark.
The first of the New Dawn series, The Disappeared is a post-apocalyptic sci-fi thriller filled with betrayal, sabotage, dysfunction, and a mysterious, disappearing bounty.
Valerie J. Mikles is a novelist, astronomer, dancer, cosplayer, and more. She currently resides in Bowie, MD where she works on weather satellites for NOAA. Her motto in life is "I can do everything I want, just not all at the same time."