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Building Excellence in Spectral Characterisation of Exoplanet Hosts and Other Stars

Project description

Enhancing Estonia’s excellence in the study of planet-hosting stars

The search for planets orbiting other stars (exoplanets), the prediction of their composition and abundance, as well as the understanding of how they form and how life can develop, are among the most exciting topics in galactic astronomy. According to NASA’s numbers, the count of confirmed exoplanets in our galaxy has surpassed 5 000. Astronomers use indirect techniques to determine the composition of rocky exoplanets, which can reveal much about the physical conditions on these worlds. However, less attention has been devoted to characterising the stars that host these planets. The EU-funded EXOHOST project aims will enable the University of Tartu in Estonia to increase its visibility, implement modern research methods and tools and become an independent regional leader in exoplanet host star characterisation.


Planetary systems around other stars (exoplanets) and their diversity are the highest-profile topic in Galactic astronomy, with broad public interest that further translates into motivation for students to enter STEM fields. The number of known exoplanets has grown to nearly 5000 and may soon grow to a total of 20000 or more. With the UCL-led Ariel mission, the European Space Agency aims to take the lead in measuring the composition of a large sample of exoplanets, and the James Webb Space Telescope is also expected to study dozens of planets. In contrast, the characterisation of the stars that host planets or planet-forming disks has received less attention. Spectroscopy of planet- or disk-hosting stars is, however, crucial to the detection and in-depth study of extrasolar planets, including understanding their chemical diversity, and for studying the relation between formation processes and diverse outcomes of star-planet systems.

By strengthening the relevant capacities, Europe can be a world-leading region in the study of extrasolar planetary systems while stimulating national-level STEM education and R&D activities. With the EXOHOST Twinning project, we will strengthen the expertise at UTARTU in modern research and management practices, stellar spectroscopic methods and tools, exoplanets, and planet formation. EXOHOST will enable UTARTU to increase its visibility and attractiveness, to implement modern research methods and tools, to become an independent regional leader in exoplanet host star characterisation, and to pose and solve new science questions, leveraging continued partnerships with UU, OEAW, and UCL for future projects, publications, and funding applications. The partner institutions will benefit from strong ties with the UTARTU team for research synergies and new mutual training opportunities.


Net EU contribution
€ 820 901,00
Ulikooli 18
51005 Tartu

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Eesti Eesti Lõuna-Eesti
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,25

Participants (2)

Partners (1)