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The iconic MIT home page Spotlight features a daily-changing image and design that focuses on advances in research, technology and education taking place at the Institute. Though some Spotlights do run multiple days - for example Friday's spot usually runs through the weekend, we work very hard to maintain the daily-changing tradition. We've combed our servers and have compiled a digital archive of the Institute home page through the years - well over 2000 images. Enjoy!
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Extreme yet livableToday’s Spotlight features images from the European Southern Observatory and Google Earth in a photo‑illustration by Christine Daniloff/MIT.

Nearly 2,000 planets beyond our solar system have been identified to date. Whether any of these exoplanets are hospitable to life depends on a number of criteria. Among these, scientists have thought, is a planet’s obliquity — the angle of its axis relative to its orbit around a star.

Earth, for instance, has a relatively low obliquity, rotating around an axis that is nearly perpendicular to the plane of its orbit around the sun. Scientists suspect, however, that exoplanets may exhibit a host of obliquities, resembling anything from a vertical spinning top to a horizontal rotisserie. The more extreme the tilt, the less habitable a planet may be — or so the thinking goes.

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The MIT home page Spotlight showcases the research, technology and education advances taking place at the Institute every day.

What makes it as a Spotlight image is an editorial decision by the MIT News Office based on factors that include timeliness, promotion of MIT's mission, the balance of interest to both internal and external audiences, and appropriateness.

We do welcome ideas and submissions for spotlights from community members, but please note we are not able to accommodate all requests. We are unable to run event previews or promotions as spotlights; for those looking to promote an event, we are happy to include your listing as an event headline on the homepage (when space is available). For more information, e-mail the spotlight team.

Request a Spotlight or Event Headline, here.
Mathematical patchwork

Mathematical patchwork

Today’s Spotlight features a photograph, taken by Bryce Vickmark, of Alice Guionnet, a professor of mathematics at MIT.

From the increasing information transmitted through telecommunications systems to that analyzed by financial institutions or gathered by search engines and social networks, so-called “big data” is becoming a huge feature of modern life.

Alice Guionnet, a professor of mathematics at MIT, investigates methods to make sense of huge data sets, to find the hidden correlations between apparently random pieces of information, their typical behavior, and random fluctuations. “I consider things called matrices, where you have an array of data,” Guionnet says. “So you take some data at random, put it in a big array, and then try to understand how to analyze it, for example to subtract the noise.”

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