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)
Members of the project
Highlights and results
- Detection of He in the atmosphere of an exoplanet from the ground, published in Science
- Detection of a super-earth around Barnard star, published in Nature
- Detection of the first TESS planets, with several papers of high relevance
- Discovery of Na and Halpha features in the spectrum of KELT-20b with TNG
- 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.
Characterizing the Purple Earth: Modeling the Globally Integrated Spectral Variability of the Archean Earth
Ongoing searches for exoplanetary systems have revealed a wealth of planets with diverse physical properties. Planets even smaller than the Earth have already been detected and the efforts of future missions are aimed at the discovery, and perhaps characterization, of small rocky exoplanets within the habitable zone of their stars. Clearly, what weMontañés-Rodríguez, P. et al.
On the Effects of the Evolution of Microbial Mats and Land Plants on the Earth as a Planet. Photometric and Spectroscopic Light Curves of Paleo-Earths
Understanding the spectral and photometric variability of the Earth and the rest of the solar system planets has become of utmost importance for the future characterization of rocky exoplanets. As this is not only interesting at present times but also along the planetary evolution, we studied the effect that the evolution of microbial mats andGarcía Munõz, A. et al.
TraMoS project - III. Improved physical parameters, timing analysis and starspot modelling of the WASP-4b exoplanet system from 38 transit observations
We report 12 new transit observations of the exoplanet WASP-4b from the Transit Monitoring in the South (TraMoS) project. These transits are combined with all previously published transit data for this planet to provide an improved radius measurement of Rp = 1.395 ± 0.022Rjup and improved transit ephemerides. In a new homogeneous analysis in searchHoyer, S. et al.