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ARIEL UNIVERSITY


Reaching for the stars


Searching for Earth-like planets might be the stuff of childhood dreams for most of us, but it’s the day-to-day reality for one of Ariel University’s post-doctoral fellows


Neither the Covid-19 pandemic nor the fact his wife was sixth months pregnant could deter Dr Volker Perdelwitz from coming to Israel. His mission? Beginning a two-year post-doctorate at Ariel University in his continuing quest to find as-yet-undiscovered exoplanets, which revolve around stars outside our solar system. Dr Perdelwitz’s research follows in the


footsteps of Swiss physicists Mayor and Queloz, who received the 2019 Nobel Prize for Physics for their 1995 discovery of the first


known exoplanet to orbit a Sun-like star. Dr Perdelwitz is now taking their research one step further, searching for exoplanets that are Earth-like. “If a planet is too large, its composition is too gaseous, but if it’s too small, its atmosphere will be blown away by the star around which it revolves,” he says. “As far as we know at this point, Earth is the only planet that supports life, but we’re continuing our search.” Since 1995, thousands of exoplanets have


been found by the scientific community worldwide. Yet, scientists have so far been


Approximately 50 percent of Ariel University’s post-doctoral fellows are international researchers


2021 | Israeli Academia 21


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