From the April 2015 issue

Debra Fischer: All About Exoplanets

A leader in the research and discovery of planets beyond our solar system, this Yale professor looks back on the brief history of exoplanet studies and ahead to the search for life elsewhere in the universe.
By | Published: April 7, 2015 | Last updated on May 18, 2023
Debra Fischer
Debra Fischer
Courtesy Debra Fischer; podcast music provided by Getty Images
Debra Fischer, currently a professor at Yale University, is one of the world’s leading experts on extrasolar planets. She and her colleagues have discovered hundreds of them by measuring Doppler shifts and the spectra of their stars, including the first known multiple-planet system that was found in 1999.

In this hourlong interview with Editor David J. Eicher, Fischer shares what first got her interested in astrophysics and what it was like to finish her Ph.D. at the dawn of exoplanet research, allowing her to get in at the ground floor. She goes on to talk about the ubiquity of planets the past 2.5 decades of research has revealed [11:20] and the future studies that will focus on looking for life elsewhere in the universe [14:00]. After touching a bit on funding issues [21:30], Fischer delves into the various missions — past, present, and future — critical to exoplanet research [24:45], before spending some time explaining the various exoplanet detection methods [42:30] and concluding with some of her favorite planetary systems [48:00].

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