Ministerio de Ciencia, Innovación y Universidades Gobierno de Canarias Universidad de La Laguna CSIC Centro de Excelencia Severo Ochoa

Astrophysics Research Projects

Physic of Stars, Planetary Systems and the Interstellar Medium

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Exoplanets and Astrobiology (P/301301)


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Antonio L. Cabrera Lavers, Nicolas Crouzet, Grzegorz Nowak, Nuria Casasayas Barris, Felipe Murgas Alcaino, Hannu Parviainen, Peter Klagyivik, Guo Chen, David López Fernández-Nespral, Patricia Chinchilla Gallego, Juan Antonio Belmonte Avilés, Víctor J. Sánchez Béjar, Lisa Nortmann, Jorge Prieto Arranz, Hans J. Deeg, Roi Alonso Sobrino, Nicolas Lodieu, Javier Licandro Goldaracena, Diego Hidalgo Soto, Pilar Montañés Rodríguez, Rafael Luque Ramírez 

IAC Collaborators: Pablo Rodríguez Gil 

Paulo Miles Paez (Univ Western Ontario); Maria Rosa Zapatero Osorio(CAB-INTA-CSIC); M. Mas-Hesse (CAB España); M. Deleuil (LAM Marseille, Francia); D. Gandolfi, (U. Torino, Italia); M. Fridlund (Leiden, Holanda y Onsala, Suecia); L. Doyle (SETI, EEUU); H. Rauer, J. Cabrera, Sz. Csizmadia (DLR, Alemania); D. Pollacco (Queens Univ. Belfast, RU); E. Günther, A. Hatzes (Tautenburg Obs, Alemania); T. Mazeh (Tel Aviv Univ., Israel); T. Boyajian (Yale, EEUU); B. Tingley (Aarhus U., Dinamarca); D. Martin (U. Ginebra), A. Triaud (Cambridge); D. Fabrycky (U. Chicago)


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 Co-Is. 

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, HARPS-N, 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 (HARPS-N, HORUS, LCOGT, SONG, CARMENES)

4) Astrobiology


1.- The discovery of EPIC219388192b, a transiting brown dwarf in a 5.3-day orbit around a member star of Ruprecht-147, the oldest nearby open cluster association (Nowak et al., 2016). EPIC 219388192 b is the first mature brown dwarf with precise determinations of mass, radius and age, and serves as benchmark for evolutionary models in the sub-stellar regime.

2.- The successful commissioning of the 4-channel simultaneous imager MUSCAT2 at the Carlos Sanchez telescope. In the next five years, over 800 nights of telescope time will go to large program on exoplanets. 

3.- First spectrally-resolved detection of a Rayleigh scattering slope in the warm Uranus GJ 3470b using the GTC telescope (Chen et al. 2017, A&A, 600A, 138). 

4.- The KESPRINT collaboration, involving many IAC researchers published 10 exoplanet discovery papers in 2017 alone, several of them lead by our team members. This is a very productive collaboration that will continue in the future with the exploitation of the TESS mission.

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