Unanswered questions about the habitability of the Universe are layered like a Russian doll. First is the question of why Earth has evolved to be ‘just right’ for life, followed by whether there are particular zones in the Milky Way Galaxy that are conducive to the development of rocky planets and complex life. However these are topped by an even grander question: is there something special about our Milky Way Galaxy as a whole, from the mysterious and oddly quiet black hole in its core to the composition of dust, gas and stars in its spiral arms? Are we living in a special time in the Milky Way’s history?
To answer these questions, The Sky at Night’s Chris Lintott, who is also a researcher at the University of Oxford, will describe the latest cutting edge results from Galaxy Zoo and space telescopes such as Fermi, as well as the possibilities for the new Gaia mission, to compare our Milky Way to other galaxies and find out just how different it is.