Institute for Astronomy Home
IFA Home Page   |    Search   |    Other Editions    No. 55 - 2015 
  All Articles  


IfA Astronomer Heads IAU Division on Planetary Science and Astrobiology

Nader Haghighipour

Nader Haghighipour
Photo by K. Teramura

IfA astronomer and UH NASA Astrobiology Institute member Nader Haghighipour has been elected president of Division F (Planetary Systems and Astrobiology) of the International Astronomical Union for 2015–18. In this capacity, he will have an important role in promoting and encouraging the study of planetary systems around our Sun and outside our solar system, as well as the search for life in the universe, one of the most vital fields of astronomy today.

In the last twenty years, nearly 2,000 exoplanets have been discovered, and that number will continue to grow rapidly. Several of these planets are potentially capable of harboring Earthly life. In addition, there have been numerous space missions to bodies within our solar system that have greatly increased our knowledge of these relatively close worlds. Two have recently been in the news, New Horizons, which flew by Pluto and its moons, and Rosetta, which has been exploring Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

Haghighipour’s research interests include the formation, detection, and dynamical evolution of extrasolar planets (especially potentially habitable ones), planets in binary star systems, the origin of Earth’s water, and astrobiology. He edited the volume Planets in Binary Star Systems, and more recently, Formation, Detection, and Characterization of Extrasolar Habitable Planets, the proceedings of an IAU symposium held in Beijing in 2012.

Division F promotes studies of planetary systems, including our own, aimed at the understanding of their formation and evolution, from the point of view of the dynamics and of the physics, as well as of the occurrence of conditions favorable to the development of life in the universe. It also oversees the assignment of proper nomenclature and discovery credits, related to astronomical objects in our solar system and other planetary systems.