Scotland is building an international profile in AstroBiology, an interdisciplinary activity aiming to understand the Origin and Diversity of Life on Earth, in the Solar System, and throughout the Universe.
- Edinburgh's SCUBA cameras achieved the first and now provide the highest resolution sub-mm images of circumstellar debris disks from which planetary systems form.
- St Andrews pioneered a method to detect reflective clouds in exoplanet atmospheres.
- St Andrews is hunting for hot jupiters that transit in front of relatively bright nearby host stars. Building on experience with a cheap prototype ( WASP0 , 2001), the world-leading SuperWASP experiment deploys 16 small-aperture wide-angle CCD survey cameras on robotic mounts in the Canary Islands (2004) and South Africa (2005).
- Edinburgh (MOA) recently achieved the first detection of a planet by gravitational microlensing.
- St Andrews is hunting for cool planets down to Earth mass by monitoring gravitational microlensing events with a network of southern hemisphere telescopes ( PLANET ) augmented from 2005 by three 2m robotic telescopes ( RoboNet ).
- Edinburgh uses numerical simulations to interpret SCUBA observations and study the shaping of debris disks by the gravitational influence of embedded planets.
- St Andrews uses supercomputer simulations, combining smooth particle hydrodynamics and Monte-Carlo radiative transfer , to interpret observations and study the formation of planetary systems and the migration of planetary orbits in the context of protoplanetary disks.