EXtra-solar planets and stellar astrophysics:
towards the detection of Other Earths

The detection of more than 1500 of extrasolar planets orbiting other solar-like stars opened the window to a new field of astrophysics. Many projects to search for Earth-like planets are currently under way, using a huge battery of telescopes and instruments. New instrumentation is also being developed towards this goal for use in both ground- and space-based facilities.

Since planets come as an output of the star formation process, the study of the stars hosting planets is of great importance. The stellar-planet connection is strengthened by the fact that the most successful planet discovery techniques (radial velocity and transit photometry) only observe the star and the influence that the planet has on its measurable properties.

In this context, the EXOEarths team is presently doing research to explore key topics in the frontier between stellar astrophysics and exoplanet research, namely:

  1. the study in unique detail of stellar limitations ("noise") in planet detection and characterization projects, as well as ways of diagnosing and correcting for them;
  2. the development and application of new tools to study the properties of the planet-host stars (including their precise atmospheric parameters and abundances), having in mind the full characterization of the newfound planets, as well as understanding planet formation processes.

These points are complemented by an active participation in planet search and characterization studies, as well as in projects for future state-of-the-art instruments and missions.

These goals will improve our capacity to detect, study, and characterize Earth-like planets orbiting nearby solar-type stars. The results of this project will actually have a strong impact for the success of future instruments, like the ESPRESSO spectrograph for the VLT (ESO) and the ESA missions CHEOPS and PLATO.

 

 

European Research CouncilSeventh Framework ProgrammeEuropean UnionCentro de Astrofísica da Universidade do PortoFundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia