Rice scientists available to discuss NASA exoplanet discovery


David Ruth

Mike Williams

Rice scientists available to discuss NASA exoplanet discovery 

HOUSTON – (Feb. 22, 2017) – Rice University experts are available to discuss NASA findings about a “discovery beyond our solar system” following the space agency’s press conference today, which is scheduled for noon Central time on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

NASA called the press conference to announce news about exoplanets, planets that revolve around other stars. Rice University astronomers Andrea Isella and Christopher Johns-Krull and planetary scientist Adrian Lenardic are available to discuss today’s revelations.

Isella, an assistant professor in Rice’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, can discuss the formation of exoplanets.

He recently led a team that, for the first time, mapped gases in dark rings around a young star where suspected exoplanets have formed. He hopes to learn how the elements in protoplanetary disks around new stars help determine what kind of a planet might form.

Lenardic, a professor of geophysics and planetary science in Rice’s Department of Earth Science, can discuss the implications of NASA’s findings.

He was part of a study that suggested how Earth may have acquired its oxygenated atmosphere and another that suggested habitable planets may lie outside the “Goldilocks zone” in extra-solar systems, and that planets farther from or closer to their stars than Earth may harbor the necessary conditions for life.

Johns-Krull, a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, recently led a study that found a Jupiter-sized planet whose outer layers are likely being torn away by its young star. A year on the fast-moving planet, which may be in a death spiral, is 11 hours long. Johns-Krull works to understand the variability found in classical T Tauri stars, young, low-mass stars that have recently emerged from their molecular clouds and are often surrounded by accretion disks in which planets are thought to form.

Isella, Lenardic and Johns-Krull will be available for interviews following the NASA news conference. To arrange an interview, contact David Ruth at david@rice.edu or 713-348-6327 or Mike Williams at mikewilliams@rice.edu or 713-348-6728.

Rice University has a VideoLink ReadyCam TV interview studio. ReadyCam is capable of transmitting broadcast-quality standard-definition and high-definition video directly to all news media organizations around the world 24/7.


This news release can be found online at news.rice.edu

Follow Rice News and Media Relations via Twitter @RiceUNews

Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation’s top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,879 undergraduates and 2,861 graduate students, Rice’s undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice is ranked No. 1 for happiest students and for lots of race/class interaction by the Princeton Review. Rice is also rated as a best value among private universities by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. To read “What they’re saying about Rice,” go to http://tinyurl.com/RiceUniversityoverview.

About Mike Williams

Mike Williams is a senior media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.