U of T boasts a long tradition of astronomical research and teaching – a century’s worth, in fact. But it has never offered an academic program dedicated to the study of planets. That will soon change, with the establishment of a new concentration in planetary science at the University of Toronto at Scarborough.
Scientists will investigate how planets form – “one of the most intriguing problems in modern astronomy and modern physics,” says Charles Dyer, an astronomy professor involved in setting up the program. UTSC has attracted two new faculty members: Pawel Artymowicz from Stockholm University and Julian Lowman from the University of Leeds in England, both experts in planetary physics. Dyer expects the program to be up and running in 2007, with two more astronomers joining soon after.
UTSC is a natural host for the planetary science program because the campus is already home to a vibrant department of physical and environmental sciences, says Dyer. Faculty specializing in chemistry, geology, physical geography and oceanography will be encouraged to apply their knowledge of Earth to other planets, he says. And the program’s astronomers will investigate both very distant worlds and the planets that make up our own solar system. “A planet is a planet, regardless of its location,” says Dyer.