Lisa Kaltenegger

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Lisa Kaltenegger is an Austrian/American astronomer with expertise in exoplanets. She holds a joint position at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy where she is the an Emmy Noether Group Leader for the "Super-Earths and Life" Group, and at Harvard University, where she was appointed a Lecturer in 2010.[1]

Academic career[edit]

Kaltenegger obtained her MSci in Astrophysics from Karl Franzens Univ Graz/IAC in 1999, her M.Eng in Physics and Engineering from Univ. of Technology Graz and her PhD in Astrophysics from Karl Franzens Univ Graz / ESTEC in 2005.[2]

Kaltenegger is known for her studies of the atmospheres of extrasolar planets [3] and was a pioneer in the study of the Earth as an astronomical object evolving in time. She studied the change in the Earth's spectral fingerprint as a comparison with the evolutionary stages of Earthlike exoplanets [4] [5] - pointing out that as biology and geology change the Earth through the ages, its appearance to a telescope observing it from distant stars would also change. She also investigated the ability of future telescopes like the James Webb Space Telescope to detect evidence of life using spectral biomarkers (biosignatures) ,[6] concluding that even bigger telescopes are really needed. In 2009 she discussed how one might search for moons around giant planets in the Alpha Centauri system [7] [8] coinciding with the suggestion of such a moon in the movie Avatar (2009 film).


Asteroid 7734 Kaltenegger is named after Kaltenegger. In 2007 she was named America's Young Innovator in Arts and Science by Smithsonian Magazine. In 2012 she was named an EC Role Model for the Women in Research & Science Campaign, EU and was awarded the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz-Preis [9] awarded annually to only six young researchers in all fields of science in Germany.


  1. ^ "Lisa Kaltenegger's Website at Harvard.". Retrieved 2012-10-19. 
  2. ^ "Kaltenegger CV". Retrieved 19 October 2012. 
  3. ^ "Detektiv im Weltall". Retrieved 28 Dec 2012. 
  4. ^ "Signs of Life". Retrieved 28 Dec 2012. 
  5. ^ "Spectral Evolution of an Earth-Like Planet". Retrieved 28 Dec 2012. 
  6. ^ "Transits of Earth-Like Planets". Retrieved 28 Dec 2012. 
  7. ^ "Moons Like Avatar's Pandora Could Be Found". Retrieved 28 Dec 2012. 
  8. ^ "Characterizing Habitable Exo-Moons". Retrieved 28 Dec 2012. 
  9. ^ "Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize for Lisa Kaltenegger". Retrieved 28 Dec 2012. 

External links[edit]