Project E

Combat stellar activity in the hunt for young planets

Louise Dyregaard Nielsen

(email advisors)

Learn about stellar activity signals that obstruct the characterisation of young planets. Using data from the high-resolution spectrograph ESPRESSO on the VLT you will investigate how we can separate stellar 'noise' from bonafide exoplanet signals.

Since the first planet was discovered around a sun outside our Solar System in 1995 the number of exoplanet detections has exploded. With more than 4000 confirmed exoplanets to date, we are starting to appreciate the diversity of planets in our galaxy. To fully understand the processes that shape a planet's size, mass, atmosphere and climate we need to characterise planets not only of all types but also across all ages. 

However, young planets remain elusive, with only a few tens for which we have measured both mass and radius. This is largely due to young stars being more active than their mature counterparts and thus covered in large star spots. 

In this project, you will use publicly available data from the stabilised high-resolution spectrograph ESPRESSO at the VLT to investigate any wavelength dependency on the stellar radial velocity. Using this information, the aim will be to develop an approach for mitigating the effect of stellar activity when characterising exoplanets using the radial velocity technique. This will lay the foundation for measuring the masses of planets around young active stars, and also potentially small rocky planets in the habitable zone around more Sun-like stars.

#exoplanets #spectroscopy #gaussianProcesses #Python #youngPlanets #radialvelocity

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