The discovery of thousands of extrasolar planetary systems has opened a new window to answering the old question of whether life is common or rare in our Galaxy. By identifying potentially habitable planets, and remotely characterizing their atmospheres, we can measure the frequency of atmospheric properties that on Earth are caused by living organisms. In this talk, I will summarize what we know now about the population of potentially habitable planets, discuss some of the complexities of planetary habitability, and talk about the roadmap for possibly finding evidence of life beyond the Solar System.
Prof. Phil Armitage is a theoretical astrophysicist in the Stony Brook Physics & Astronomy Department. He is interested in the formation of planetary systems and the astrophysics of black holes.