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Decoding Lights from Exotic Worlds

Objective

It is now accepted that exoplanets are ubiquitous. However little is known about those planets we have detected beyond the fact they exist and their location. For a minority, we know their weight, size and orbital parameters. For less than twenty, we have some clues about their atmospheric temperature and composition. How do we progress from here?
We are still far from a hypothetical Hertzsprung–Russell diagram for planets and we do not even know whether there ever will be such classification for planets. The planetary parameters mass, radius and temperature alone do not explain the diversity revealed by current observations. The chemical composition of these planets is needed to trace back their formation history and evolution, as was the case for the Solar System.
Pioneering results were obtained through transit spectroscopy with Hubble, Spitzer and ground-based facilities, enabling the detection of ionic, atomic and molecular species and of the planet’s thermal structure. With the arrival of improved or dedicated instruments in the coming decade, planetary science will expand beyond the narrow boundaries of our Solar System to encompass our whole Galaxy.
In the next five years, ExoLights will address the following fundamental questions:
– Why are exoplanets as they are?
– What are the causes for the observed diversity?
– Can their formation history be traced back from their current composition and evolution?
New spectroscopic observations of a select sample of exoplanets’ atmospheres (~ 20 out of the 150 observable today) will be analysed with state-of-the art statistical techniques and interpreted through a comprehensive set of spectral retrieval models, developed by the PI and her team. This programme, together with the homogeneous re-analysis of archive observations of a larger sample of exoplanets, will allow us to use the chemical composition as a powerful diagnostic of the history, formation mechanisms and evolution of gaseous and rocky exoplanets.

Field of science

  • /natural sciences/physical sciences/astronomy/planetary science
  • /natural sciences/chemical sciences/analytical chemistry/spectroscopy
  • /natural sciences/physical sciences/astronomy/planetary science/planets/exoplanetology
  • /humanities/history and archaeology/history
  • /natural sciences/physical sciences/astronomy/planetary science/planets

Call for proposal

ERC-2013-CoG
See other projects for this call

Funding Scheme

ERC-CG - ERC Consolidator Grants

Host institution

University College London
Address
Gower Street
WC1E 6BT London
United Kingdom
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 1 893 923,66
Principal investigator
Giovanna Tinetti (Dr.)
Administrative Contact
Machell Giles (Mr.)

Beneficiaries (2)

University College London
United Kingdom
EU contribution
€ 1 893 923,66
Address
Gower Street
WC1E 6BT London
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Principal investigator
Giovanna Tinetti (Dr.)
Administrative Contact
Machell Giles (Mr.)
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY FACILITIES COUNCIL
United Kingdom
EU contribution
€ 186 578,34
Address
Polaris House North Star Avenue
SN2 1SZ Swindon
Activity type
Research Organisations
Administrative Contact
Shelley Decker (Mrs.)