Oral Abstract

Oral Contribution (O0.2) Umit Kavak ()

Watch out: Exoplanet in the Netherlands!

The Earth is the only planet in the entire Universe where life is known to exist. In the last 30 years, astronomers have found more than 4000 exoplanets. However, traveling to the nearest exoplanet which is the Proxima Centauri b (4.25 light-year or 4.02 x 10¹³ km away from Earth), takes about twelve thousand years even with the latest technology. We aim to raise awareness and spread the word about the enormous distances to exoplanets and pop-up the uniqueness of the Earth by putting scaled models of exoplanets in public places in the Netherlands. By doing this, we aim to bring the attention to the public that we should take care of our Earth. Moreover, we want to let people understand what powerful techniques and instruments astrophysicists have to use to study exoplanets.

As SRON Netherlands Institutes for Space Research will lead the project, we plan to locate a Solar System model at the new SRON building in Leiden to be constructed in 2021. Because of the limiting factors of the human eye and the size of The Netherlands, the only viable option is to use a distance like Leiden-Groningen and the nearest exoplanet. Therefore we want to put the Proxima Centauri System at the SRON Groningen building, at 184 km from Leiden. The diameter of the Sun would then be about 10 millimeters. Earth would be impossibly small, so we only depict Earth’s orbit: at 1 cm from the Sun model.