Stanimir Metchev



Canada Research Chair in Extrasolar Planets

Tier 2 - 2013-10-01
Renewed: 2018-10-01
Western University
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council

519-661-2111, ext. 88438
smetchev@uwo.ca

Research involves


Using astronomical imaging and spectroscopy to study planets around other stars.

Research relevance


This research will inform the future discovery and characterization of habitable, or perhaps even life-supporting, extrasolar planets in our galaxy.

Could Other Planetary Systems Support Life?


Is our existence the miraculous outcome of a fortuitous chain of events, or is life the norm for planetary systems in our galaxy?

This fundamental question has been a purely philosophical one for millennia—but astronomy is starting to offer hard scientific evidence to answer it. Around the year 2000, studies of extrasolar planets (“exoplanets”) went from being marginalized to being not only mainstream science, but also the principal drivers behind billion-dollar telescopes.

Actual images of habitable Earth-like exoplanets may still be decades away, but scientists are already identifying planetary systems similar to our own. The diversity of their environments and the likelihood of any containing planets that can support life can be assessed through sheer volume of discoveries and detailed characterizations of the nearest, most accessible ones.

Dr. Stanimir Metchev, Canada Research Chair in Extrasolar Planets, brings a unique approach to this endeavour by combining several diverse techniques. He and his research team are using state-of-the-art, high-contrast imaging technology to directly detect planets around their bright host stars. They are also using spectroscopic diagnostics to measure the atmospheric composition of these planets, and long-duration monitoring to reveal changes in their atmospheric appearance caused by global winds and large-scale storms.

Ultimately, this research will create a detailed picture of the demographics and atmospheres of planetary systems in our galaxy. The resulting insights will inform the future discovery and characterization of habitable, or perhaps even life-supporting, extrasolar planets.