This artist's impression shows a gas-giant exoplanet transiting across the face of its star. Infrared analysis by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope.

New professor is one of the joint discoverers of a planet orbiting a normal star beyond the Solar System.

I am delighted to be moving to Cambridge. It is a real honour for me to join a University which has been the home and source of inspiration to so many great scientists.

Professor Didier Queloz

One of Europe’s top experts on exoplanets, planets located beyond the Solar System, will be joining the University’s Department of Physics.  The world-leading astrophysicist Professor Didier Queloz has been appointed to the post of Professor of Physics at the Cavendish Laboratory.

Professor Queloz said: "I am delighted to be moving to Cambridge. It is a real honour for me to join a University which has been the home and source of inspiration to so many great scientists."

Extra-solar system planets, or exoplanets, were first detected by Queloz and his colleague Michel Mayor in 1995.  Since then, more than 800 exoplanets have been discovered.

Professor James Stirling, Head of the Department of Physics, said: "We are delighted that Didier will be joining us as a Professor in the Cavendish Laboratory next year. We have made a very considerable investment in experimental astrophysics in recent years, including a brand new building to house our astrophysics group.  Didier's appointment will open up a new strand of research in one of the most exciting areas of modern astronomy and will build upon the expertise we already have in instrument development, star and planet formation, atmospheric chemistry, planetary geophysics and climatology.

“It will also further cement links with our colleagues in the Institute of Astronomy and the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, and help maintain Cambridge and UK leadership in fundamental science."

The study of exoplanets is a relatively new field of astrophysics research, but since Professor Queloz’s discovery in 1995 it has grown exponentially. One of the most interesting aspects of the research is the search for Earth-like planets which have the ability to support life. This research hopes to shed light on the evolution of Earth’s own atmosphere and the burgeoning field of bioastrophysics.

The new professor will eventually be based at the Cavendish’s Battcock Centre for Experimental Astrophysics, a new building which plans to capitalise on the exciting developments in astronomy and will open in September 2013. Sited next to the Kavli Institute for Cosmology and the Institute of Astronomy, the Centre will reinforce Cambridge’s global reputation as a world-class centre of research excellence in all aspects of astrophysics and cosmology.

Professor Queloz will arrive in early Spring 2013 and will continue to maintain a part-time connection with the University of Geneva, as one of the world’s leading exoplanet research centres.


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