Two hundred scientists will convene at the Aspen Center for Physics, Aspen, Colorado on February 6-12 to mark the 10th anniversary of the discovery of the first extrasolar planet around a sunlike star. Since that 1995 breakthrough, over 100 planetary systems orbiting stars beyond the Sun have been discovered. Once, scientists believed that planets and planetary systems might be very rare; and these topics were more likely to be covered in science fiction publications than in scientific journals.

At the end of the 1995-2005 decade, however, the study of extrasolar planets has become a central field in modern astrophysics and has stimulated the growth of a new discipline, astrobiology.

Bona fide working journalists are invited to attend the anniversary event, the 2005 Winter Conference on Astrophysics, “Planet Formation and Detection,” and will receive complimentary press registration upon acceptance. Institutional science writers/press officers who are coordinating media releases based on papers accepted for the Conference will be similarly registered.

“Planet Formation and Detection” features many of the best-known scientists in the field, including Dr. Michel Mayor (Geneva Observatory, Switzerland), who discovered the first extrasolar planet of a sunlike star, 51 Pegasi B, and Prof. Geoffrey Marcy (University of California, Berkeley), leader of the team that has discovered the majority of the known planets.

News to be released at the Conference will include discoveries from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. Formal announcements to the media will be made on Monday, February 7, however discussions of new work will continue throughout the meeting.

The main scientific topics at the Conference include new observations of extrasolar planets by Doppler, transit, and gravitational microlensing searches, as well as future detection techniques. Science related to the formation and evolution of the planets is a principal area, including discussions of protostellar, planetesimal, and debris disks, the origin of terrestrial and giant planets (both the formation mechanisms and the role of environment such as location in a binary star or a star cluster), and the means by which the orbital characterists of planets may change through planetary migration and star-planet migration.

The Conference website,

includes a list of participants, the scientific program, and abstracts of scientific papers that have been submitted for the event. Lodging and transportation information are also included.) Press registration is available only by contacting the designated individual listed in the contact block above.

The Conference organizers are Drs. Marc J. Kuchner (Princeton University), Douglas N.C. Lin (University of California-Santa Cruz), Frederic A. Rasio (Northwestern University), and Alycia Weinberger (Carnegie Institution of Washington). The meeting is funded by the Aspen Center for Physics, the National Science Foundation, the NASA Astrobiology Institute, the NASA Origins Program, and the US Department of Energy.


Dr. Steve Maran
1-202-328-2010 x116


Dr. Fred Rasio