Halley Lecture

Date: 
8 Jun 2016 - 5:00pm to 7:00pm
Venue: 
Martin Wood Complex, Department of Physics, University of Oxford, Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3PU
Room: 
Martin Wood Lecture Theatre
Audience: 
General public (Age 14+)

This year's Halley Lecture will be delivered by Professor Scott Tremaine FRS, Richard Black Professor, School of Natural Sciences, IAS, Princeton University, on Wednesday 8th June 2016 @ 5pm in the Martin Wood Lecture Theatre.

Title: The Origin and Structure of the Solar System Comet Cloud
Abstract: Comets have inspired awe and fear since pre-historic times, but the modern study of comets only
began with Halley's analysis of comet orbits and his successful prediction of the return of what is now
called Halley's comet. Even today there are only a few thousand comets with well-determined orbits.
Nevertheless, the analysis of these orbits yields a compelling model for the formation, evolution and present
distribution of comets. This model implies that there are two distinct sources of comets: the Oort cloud,
containing over 100 billion comets at 5,000 to 50,000 times the Earth-Sun distance; and the Kuiper belt
outside Neptune's orbit. I will review our current understanding of the formation of the Oort cloud and
Kuiper belt, our successes and failures in explaining the properties of comets and their orbits, and the
relation between comets and possible undiscovered planets in the outer solar system.

For more information contact: 

Leanne O'Donnell 01865 613 973
Leanne.odonnell@physics.ox.ac.uk