Exoplanets and Astrobiology


The search for life in the universe has been driven by recent discoveries of planets around other stars (known as exoplanets), becoming one of the most active fields in modern astrophysics. The growing number of new exoplanets discovered in recent years and the recent advance on the study of their atmospheres are not only providing new valuable information about its physical properties, but also allowing to constrain the properties of the Solar system's planets within a more global context. The field is approaching to the important discovery of the first potentially habitable planets and encouraging more detailed studies of them. With the launching of upcoming related satellites like JWST, CHEOPS, TESS, ARIEL and PLATO, the exoplanets field faces a bright future.

It is for this reason that this field is aid of, and at the same time promotes, the development of increasingly sensitive and stable instrumentation for both, ground-based telescopes and space missions. Our group is particularly prepared for these two fronts. On the one hand, during the last years we have developed observational and reduction techniques of exoplanet transits data for the ORM telescopes, ours being one of the most productive groups in the exploitation of GTC. On the other hand, all ESA space missions (present and future) related to exoplanets have one or more components of the project as CoIs. Within the frame of this project, we intend that IAC researchers maintain an advantageous position regarding the operation of OSIRIS and CanariCam, first light

GTC's instruments, and participate in the construction, commissioning and operation of new instruments such as the high resolution optical spectrograph HORUS at GTC. The exploitation of the photometry and spectroscopy of transits with LIRIS at WHT is also one of our principal interests, especially in preparation for the installation in 2015 of EMIR on the GTC .

To summarize, the project "Exoplanets and Astrobiology" will focus on these four action lines:

1) The characterization of atmospheric and physical properties of exoplanets (GTC, WHT, ARIEL, HARPSN, CARMENES, ESPRESSO, etc. ..)

2) The search and confirmation of exoplanets by transits techniques (CoRoT, Kepler, K2, CHEOPS, XO, LCOGT, W FC, DISH, etc. ..)

3) The search and confirmation of exoplanet by radial velocity techniques (HARPSN, HORUS, LCOGT, SONG, CARMENES)

4) Astrobiology

Principal investigator
  1. Detection of He in the atmosphere of an exoplanet from the ground, published in Science
  2. Detection of a super-earth around Barnard star, published in Nature
  3. Detection of the first TESS planets, with several papers of high relevance
  4. Discovery of Na and Halpha features in the spectrum of KELT-20b with TNG
  5. Publication of the Handbook of Exoplanets, the most extensive work of reference in the field of exoplanets. The Handbook was edited by members of our group, and includes contributions by about 300 experts worldwide, including 12 members of IAC.

Publications related

  • A deep WISE search for very late type objects and the discovery of two halo/thick-disc T dwarfs: WISE 0013+0634 and WISE 0833+0052

    A method is defined for identifying late-T and Y dwarfs in WISE down to low values of signal-to-noise. This requires a WISE detection only in the W2-band and uses the statistical properties of the WISE multiframe measurements and profile fit photometry to reject contamination resulting from non-point-like objects, variables and moving sources. To

    Lucas, P. W. et al.

    Advertised on:

  • Habitable Planets Eclipsing Brown Dwarfs: Strategies for Detection and Characterization

    Given the very close proximity of their habitable zones, brown dwarfs (BDs) represent high-value targets in the search for nearby transiting habitable planets that may be suitable for follow-up occultation spectroscopy. In this paper, we develop search strategies to find habitable planets transiting BDs depending on their maximum habitable orbital

    Belu, Adrian R. et al.

    Advertised on:

  • High angular resolution imaging and infrared spectroscopy of CoRoT candidates

    Context. Studies of transiting extrasolar planets are of key importance for understanding the nature of planets outside our solar system because their masses, diameters, and bulk densities can be measured. An important part of transit-search programmes is the removal of false-positives. In the case of the CoRoT space mission, the majority of the

    Guenther, E. W. et al.

    Advertised on:


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