The Nantucket Maria Mitchell Association Virtual Speaker Series Continues with Astronomer Meredith MacGregor

Nantucket, MA – On June 17, 2020 at 7:00 pm, Dr. Meredith MacGregor will give a virtual lecture entitled, “How to Form a Habitable Planet.”  The talk will be held via Zoom.

Most young stars are surrounded by ‘circumstellar’ disks of gas and dust, the initial material for the formation of planets.  Dr. MacGregor will discuss how planetary systems form from these disks and evolve over millions to billions of years, with a focus on what conditions might create a ‘habitable’ planet. For the first time, we can see baby planets forming in circumstellar disks, and watch as they sculpt their surroundings through gravitational interactions. Dr. MacGregor will also discuss what other factors impact the habitability of planets, including the effect of space weather produced by the host star.  In the future, the development of new telescopes presents an exciting path towards understanding our Solar System, its formation and evolution, and its place in the universe of exoplanet systems.

Meredith MacGregor is an assistant professor at the University of Colorado Boulder in the Department of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences. She also serves as the Co-Chair of the NASA Infrared Science Interest Group. Previously, she was a NSF Astronomy and Astrophysics Postdoctoral Fellow at the Carnegie Institution for Science after finishing her PhD at Harvard University. Back in 2009. Dr. MacGregor was an intern as part of the Maria Mitchell Astronomy REU program! Dr. MacGregor’s research program leverages multi-wavelength observations to explore the formation and potential habitability of planetary systems.

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The Maria Mitchell Association will be hosting a virtual speaker each Wednesday evening from 7:00-8:00 as part of its summer Science Speaker Series. The lectures will be free and viewable on Zoom. The link to each lecture will be shared on the Maria Mitchell Association’s website and social media.

The Nantucket Maria Mitchell Association (MMA) is a private non-profit organization. Founded in 1902, the MMA works to preserve the legacy of Nantucket native astronomer, naturalist, librarian, and educator, Maria Mitchell. The Maria Mitchell Association operates two observatories, a natural science museum, an aquarium, a research center, and preserves the historic birthplace of Maria Mitchell. A wide variety of science and history-related programming is offered throughout the year for people of all ages.