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

The detection of hundreds 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 most of the exoplanets were discovered using a Doppler radial-velocity technique, where the gravitational influence of the planet on the star and not the planet itself is actually measured.

The EXOEarths program aims at doing frontier research to explore:

  1. in unique detail the stellar limitations of the radial-velocity technique, as well as ways of reducing them, having in mind the detection of Earth-like planets
  2. to develop and apply software packages aiming at the study of the properties of the planet host stars, having in mind the full characterization of the newfound planets, as well as understanding planet formation processes.

These goals will improve our capacity to detect, study, and characterize new very low mass extra-solar planets. The results of this project will have a strong impact on the exploitation of future instruments, like the ESPRESSO spectrograph for the VLT. They will also be of extreme importance to current state-of-the-art planet-search projects aiming at the discovery of other Earths, in particular those making use of the radial-velocity method.

The PI: Nuno C. Santos

 

 

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