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George Cody Colloquium Abstract (Oct 7, 2015)

Shining Light on the Dark History of the Early Solar System

With the discovery that planets surrounding stars are common place and the likelihood of discovering Earth size planets in the so-called habitable zone favorable; the consideration of the possibility of life else where in the galaxy becomes compelling. The term habitable zone generally refers to the radial distance a planet has with respect to its star, where surface water may be liquid. Whereas planet finding methods, e.g. radial velocity and transit measurements, can provide the radial distances; factors such as the composition of atmospheres capable of providing the appropriate green house warming can not be ascertained. In this talk, I will focus on the issue of getting carbon into inner solar system planets. I will follow carbon from molecular clouds through early solar system formation and evolution and consider the nature of carbon in primitive solar system objects, e.g. comets and chondritic meteorites. Ultimately I will seek to explain why the carbon abundance on Earth may be what it is and discuss whether this abundance would be inevitable.