Travelling to alien worlds with Grande conférence speaker Michaël Gillon

The Institute for Research on Exoplanets had the pleasure of hosting Dr. Michaël Gillon in late October as the 2018 Grande conférence speaker. On the evening of October 24th, nearly 200 audience members were taken on a journey to extra-terrestrial worlds in the realms of both science and science-fiction during Dr. Gillon’s public talk titled “La vie au-delà du système solaire: de la science-fiction à la science”.

Dr. Michaël Gillon explains how scientists can find exoplanets using the transit method. Credit: Étienne Artigau.

Michaël Gillon, Research Associate at the STAR (Space sciences, Technologies and Astrophysics Research) Institute at the Université de Liège, is best known for leading the team that discovered the now famous TRAPPIST-1 exoplanetary system. Quite astoundingly, this system is thought to contain seven Earth-sized rocky planets, including three or perhaps even four located in the habitable zone. Our institute had the pleasure of hosting him for a few days in late October 2018 as our Grande conférence de l’iREx 2018 speaker.

Join us on TRAPPIST-1e on the “Hab Zone”! A copy of this stylised travel poster created by NASA-JPL/Caltech was raffled off after Dr. Gillon’s public talk.

In anticipation of Dr. Gillon’s public talk, iREx Director René Doyon was interviewed by Québec Science on the importance of the TRAPPIST-1 system and the search for exoplanets. Dr. Gillon himself was also interviewed by several local media outlets to talk about his research and his public talk, including Radio-Canada and Québec Science.

Nearly 200 people attended the Grande conférence de l’iREx on the evening of Wednesday, October 24th wherein Dr. Gillon spoke about humanity’s search for alien worlds over the years through both science-fiction and science. Many of the current and future proposed missions and possible discoveries presented by Dr. Gillon seemed almost stranger than the fictional stories recounted during the talk. Following the talk, one lucky audience member won a special NASA-created travel poster for exoplanet TRAPPIST-1e located in the system’s habitable zone. The iREx team was honoured to host such a well-attended and visibly-appreciated event, and we warmly thank Dr. Michaël Gillon for his compelling talk. We look forward to meeting him again, perhaps on a planet far, far away!

The Grande conférence de l’iREx public talks bring one world-class researcher in the field of astrophysics to Montreal to interact with iREx members and showcase both their science and their story to the general public. Previous speakers have included David Charbonneau (Harvard) and Vicky Meadows (U of Washington).