Project

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Exploring exoplanets with cutting-edge spectroscopy

English title Exploring exoplanets with cutting-edge spectroscopy
Applicant Pepe Francesco
Number 140649
Funding scheme Project funding
Research institution Observatoire de Genève Université de Genève
Institution of higher education University of Geneva - GE
Main discipline Astronomy, Astrophysics and Space Sciences
Start/End 01.09.2012 - 31.08.2014
Approved amount 560'038.00
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Keywords (11)

Rocky exoplanets; High-precision spectroscopy; SPIROU; Habitable zone; ESPRESSO; Extra-solar planets; Radial velocities; Microcombs; Atmospheres; Laser frequency combs; HARPS-N

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Lay summary

In the frame of this project we will develop the scientific and technological tools to move one step further in the capabilities of visible and infrared high-resolution and high-precision spectroscopy applied to the domain of extra-solar planets. HARPS-N@TNG is the Northern-hemisphere copy of the successful HARPS instrument. The project is led by the Geneva Observatory, which is the PI-institute and thus responsible for the Guaranteed-Time Observations (GTO) awarded to this project. The GTO will be dedicated to the radial-velocity follow-up of many very promising Kepler candidates and search for rocky planets in the habitable zone. In order to carry out the scientific program in an efficient way and take benefit of the potentially great scientific outcomes, we need to set-up a Team of experienced scientists and PhD-students.

As for HARPS, the responsibility for such an instrument and the active participation to the scientific programs leads directly to more technical competence and a better understanding of the data-reduction and analysis. This leads in turn to a more efficient use of the instruments and the observing time. As a natural by-product, this experience will help us in improving present instrumentation and explore their limits. This experience will be invested in starting projects like ESPRESSO@VLT and SPIROU@CFHT in which we are strongly involved. Indeed, the domain of extra-solar planets has greatly evolved during the past years by continuously pushing back observational limits, and by developing new techniques and methods. One of the most promising techniques is the visible and infrared high-precision spectroscopy, which can provide direct information on planetary atmospheres and their composition. It is however in its initial stages although very exciting first results become available today. The reason for the poor development of this technique is the lack of precise, high-resolution infrared spectrographs on large telescopes. By its involvement in ground-based observations with HARPS and CRIRES, on the one hand, and in space-based observations with Spitzer and HST, on the other hand, the Geneva Observatory is well placed to play a key role in this field. We therefore want to acquire additional competences in the modeling of planetary atmospheres and their observational features, as well as develop a better understanding of the instrumental capabilities. These competences will be of direct use in the ESPRESSO and SPIROU projects, both aiming at high resolution and high precision at visible and the infrared wavelengths, respectively. Furthermore, it will strengthen our involvement in future projects on the Extremely-Large Telescopes (ELT) and in space (ECHO).

Instrumentation projects must be conducted within a very strict organizational frame in order to ensure (contractual) performances, costs and schedule. In this context both costs and risks must be minimized. To make technology progresses and prepare for future instrumentation it becomes mandatory to acquire key technological competences and knowledge outside the ‘normal’ project activity. In the past years, we have identified very specific aspects, which limit present observations. Some of them have already been addressed successfully and solved, others remain still open. One of these aspects is the wavelength calibration of spectrographs. Recently we have identified possible solutions to this limitation by the use of laser-frequency combs. They deliver spectral coverage, sufficient spectral information and perfect stability, parameters which are difficult to obtain in the infrared wavelength domain otherwise. We aim at adapting such a system for astronomical applications, test it in laboratory, and use it on existing and future instruments. Two key points were still missing, however: A simple, compact and stable solution for the infrared, and a practical implementation of it. The first is solved through a close collaboration with the group of Prof. Kippenberg at EPFL, who is an international specialist in the domain. Through this collaboration the relevant technology will be transferred to the Geneva Observatory and adapted for our applications. The second aspect will be covered by the CSEM. During the period covered by this proposal we will set up a collaboration with CSEM and define a path to be followed and aiming at stabilization and ‘industrialization’ of this microcomb technology.

The many results obtained in the field of exoplanets arise to a significant fraction from our successful participation to instrumentation projects. They deliver to us the required experience but also the observing time for carrying out our programs. In order to keep pace with continuously new challenges we need to extend our domain of competence. Our project will help consolidating the Swiss leadership and provide essential tools for future projects and programs in the Era of Extremely-Large Telescopes and space projects.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
ESPRESSO: The next European exoplanet hunter
Pepe F., Molaro P., Cristiani S., Rebolo R., Santos N. C., Dekker H., Mégevand D., Zerbi F. M., Cabral A., Di Marcantonio P., Abreu M., Affolter M., Aliverti M., Allende Prieto C., Amate M., Avila G., Baldini V., Bristow P., Broeg C., Cirami R., Coelho J., Conconi P., Coretti I., Cupani G., D'Odorico V. (2014), ESPRESSO: The next European exoplanet hunter, in Astronomische Nachrichten, 335, 8-8.
ESPRESSO: the radial velocity machine for the VLT
Mégevand D., Zerbi F.~M., Di Marcantonio P., Cabral A., Riva M., Abreu M., Pepe F., Cristiani S., Rebolo Lopez R., Santos N. C., Dekker H., Aliverti M., Allende C., Amate M., Avila G., Baldini V., Bandy T., Bristow P., Broeg C., Cirami R., Coelho J., Conconi P., Coretti I., Cupani G., D'Odorico V. (2014), ESPRESSO: the radial velocity machine for the VLT, in Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE) Conference Series, 9147, 91471H.
HARPS-N @ TNG, two year harvesting data: performances and results
Cosentino R., Lovis C., Pepe F., Cameron A. C., Latham D. W., Molinari E., Udry S., Bezawada N., Buchschacher N., Figueira P., Fleury M., Ghedina A., Glenday A. G., Gonzalez M., Guerra J., Henry D., Hughes I., Maire C., Motalebi F., Phillips D. F. (2014), HARPS-N @ TNG, two year harvesting data: performances and results, in Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE) Conference Series, 9147, 91478C.
Instrumentation for the detection and characterization of exoplanets
Pepe F., Ehrenreich D., Meyer M. R. (2014), Instrumentation for the detection and characterization of exoplanets, in Nature, 513, 358-366.
The Kepler-10 Planetary System Revisited by HARPS-N: A Hot Rocky World and a Solid Neptune-Mass Planet
Dumusque X., Bonomo A. S., Haywood R. D., Malavolta L., Ségransan D., Buchhave L. A., Collier Cameron A., Latham D. W., Molinari E., Pepe F., Udry S., Charbonneau D., Cosentino R., Dressing C. D., Figueira P., Fiorenzano A. F. M., Gettel S., Harutyunyan A., Horne K., Lopez-Morales M., Lovis C., Mayor M., Micela G., Motalebi F., Nascimbeni V. (2014), The Kepler-10 Planetary System Revisited by HARPS-N: A Hot Rocky World and a Solid Neptune-Mass Planet, in Astrophysical Journal, 789, 154-154.
An Earth-sized planet with an Earth-like density
Pepe F., Cameron A. C., Latham D. W., Molinari E., Udry S., Bonomo A. S., Buchhave L. A., Charbonneau D., Cosentino R., Dressing C. D., Dumusque X., Figueira P., Fiorenzano A. F. M., Gettel S., Harutyunyan A., Haywood R. D., Horne K., Lopez-Morales M., Lovis C., Malavolta L., Mayor M., Micela G., Motalebi F., Nascimbeni V., Phillips D. (2013), An Earth-sized planet with an Earth-like density, in Nature, 503, 377-380.
ESPRESSO - An Echelle SPectrograph for Rocky Exoplanets Search and Stable Spectroscopic Observations
Pepe F., Cristiani S., Rebolo R., Santos N. C., Dekker H., Mégevand D., Zerbi F. M., Cabral A., Molaro P., Di Marcantonio P., Abreu M., Affolter M., Aliverti M., Allende Prieto C., Amate M., Avila G., Baldini V., Bristow P., Broeg C., Cirami R., Coelho J., Conconi P., Coretti I., Cupani G., D'Odorico V. (2013), ESPRESSO - An Echelle SPectrograph for Rocky Exoplanets Search and Stable Spectroscopic Observations, in The Messenger, 153, 6-16.
A passive cost-effective solution for the high accuracy wavelength calibration of radial velocity spectrographs
Wildi F., Chazelas B., Pepe F. (2012), A passive cost-effective solution for the high accuracy wavelength calibration of radial velocity spectrographs, in Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE) Conference Series, 8446, 84468E.
An Earth-mass planet orbiting alpha Centauri B
Dumusque X., Pepe F., Lovis C., Ségransan D., Sahlmann J., Benz W., Bouchy F., Mayor M., Queloz D., Santos N., Udry S. (2012), An Earth-mass planet orbiting alpha Centauri B, in Nature, 491, 207-211.
ESPRESSO: the ultimate rocky exoplanets hunter for the VLT
Mégevand D., Zerbi F. M., Cabral A., Di Marcantonio P., Amate M., Pepe F., Cristiani S., Rebolo R., Santos N. C., Dekker H., Abreu M., Affolter M., Avila G., Baldini V., Bristow P., Broeg C., Carvas P., Cirami R., Coelho J., Comar M., Conconi P., Coretti I., Cupani G., D'Odorico V., De Caprio V. (2012), ESPRESSO: the ultimate rocky exoplanets hunter for the VLT, in Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE) Conference Series, 8446, 84461R.
Harps-N: the new planet hunter at TNG
Cosentino R., Lovis C., Pepe F., Collier Cameron A., Latham D. W., Molinari E., Udry S., Bezawada N., Black M., Born A., Buchschacher N., Charbonneau D., Figueira P., Fleury M., Galli A., Gallie A., Gao X., Ghedina A., Gonzalez C., Gonzalez M., Guerra J., Henry D., Horne K., Hughes I., Kelly D. (2012), Harps-N: the new planet hunter at TNG, in Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE) Conference Series, 8446, 84461V.
Optical fibers for precise radial velocities: an update
Chazelas B., Pepe F., Wildi F. (2012), Optical fibers for precise radial velocities: an update, in Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE) Conference Series, 8450, 845013.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
HARPS-N Collaboration United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
European Southern Observatory (ESO) Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
ESPRESSO Collaboration Spain (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
SPIROU Collaboration Canada (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
Towards other Earths II - The planet-star connection Talk given at a conference Talk by Pepe 'ESPRESSO and beyond'; Poster by Cersullo 'Fabry Perot etalons for high precision wavelength and radial velocity calibration'; SOC Member Lovis 15.09.2014 Oporto, Portugal Lovis Christophe; Cersullo Maria Federica; Udry Stéphane; Pepe Francesco;
Fiber Optics in Astronomy - IV Talk given at a conference Thoughtful design and calibration of fiber fed instruments 19.08.2014 Cambridge, MA, United States of America Pepe Francesco;
Exoplanet Observations with the E-ELT 2014 Talk given at a conference Invited talk by Lovis 'Planetary Populations through Detection Surveys'; Poster by Wyttenbach on signatures in planetary atmospheres; Poster by Cersullo on Fabry-Pérot calibration 03.02.2014 Munich, Germany Pepe Francesco; Wyttenbach Aurélien; Cersullo Maria Federica; Lovis Christophe;


Self-organised

Title Date Place
10 years of science with HARPS 16.09.2013 Bogis-Bossey, Switzerland

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
152721 Exploring exoplanets with cutting-edge spectroscopy 01.09.2014 Project funding
146876 La station d'observation Euler 01.04.2013 Research Infrastructure
153235 Planètes extrasolaires, détection et caractérisation 01.05.2014 Project funding
150740 Mid Infrared spectral analysis instrumentation 01.12.2013 R'EQUIP
147475 ESPRESSO - The search for other Earths 01.04.2013 FLARE
152721 Exploring exoplanets with cutting-edge spectroscopy 01.09.2014 Project funding
137719 ESPRESSO - The search for other Earths (FINES Funding) 01.01.2012 FINES / ESO
146823 Microresonators based Frequency combs in the visible and infrared 01.04.2013 Project funding
166295 Infrastructure d'observation: La station Euler 01.07.2016 Research Infrastructure
150780 ESPRESSO - The search for other Earths - Infrastructure and Equipment 01.01.2014 R'EQUIP
117400 New Fabry-Perot Calibration System for extremely-precise radial-velocity measurements in the search for Earth-mass planets 01.08.2007 R'EQUIP
166227 Exploring exoplanets with cutting-edge spectroscopy 01.09.2016 Project funding
166296 Planètes extrasolaires, détection et caractérisation 01.05.2016 Project funding

Abstract

In the frame of this project we will develop the scientific and technological tools to move one step further in the capabilities of visible and infrared high-resolution and high-precision spectroscopy applied to the domain of extra-solar planets. HARPS-N@TNG is the Northern-hemisphere copy of the successful HARPS instrument. The project is led by the Geneva Observatory, which is the PI-institute and thus responsible for the Guaranteed-Time Observations (GTO) awarded to this project. The GTO will be dedicated to the radial-velocity follow-up of many very promising Kepler candidates and search for rocky planets in the habitable zone. In order to carry out the scientific program in an efficient way and take benefit of the potentially great scientific outcomes, we need to set-up a Team of experienced scientists and PhD-students. Personnel for the scientific follow-up is not provided by project funding such as the PRODEX (currently financing HARPS-N ) or FINES programs. It is therefore requested through SNF.As for HARPS, the responsibility for such an instrument and the active participation to the scientific programs leads directly to more technical competence and a better understanding of the data-reduction and analysis. This leads in turn to a more efficient use of the instruments and the observing time. As a natural by-product, this experience will help us in improving present instrumentation and explore their limits. This experience will be invested in starting projects like ESPRESSO@VLT and SPIROU@CFHT in which we are strongly involved.Indeed, the domain of extra-solar planets has greatly evolved during the past years by continuously pushing back observational limits, and by developing new techniques and methods. One of the most promising techniques is the visible and infrared high-precision spectroscopy, which can provide direct information on planetary atmospheres and their composition. It is however in its initial stages although very exciting first results become available today. The reason for the poor development of this technique is the lack of precise, high-resolution infrared spectrographs on large telescopes. By its involvement in ground-based observations with HARPS and CRIRES, on the one hand, and in space-based observations with Spitzer and HST, on the other hand, the Geneva Observatory is well placed to play a key role in this field. We therefore want to acquire additional competences in the modeling of planetary atmospheres and their observational features, as well as develop a better understanding of the instrumental capabilities. These competences will be of direct use in the ESPRESSO and SPIROU projects, both aiming at high resolution and high precision at visible and the infrared wavelengths, respectively. Furthermore, it will strengthen our involvement in future projects on the Extremely-Large Telescopes (ELT) and in space (ECHO).Instrumentation projects must be conducted within a very strict organizational frame in order to ensure (contractual) performances, costs and schedule. In this context both costs and risks must be minimized. To make technology progresses and prepare for future instrumentation it becomes mandatory to acquire key technological competences and knowledge outside the ‘normal’ project activity. In the past years, we have identified very specific aspects, which limit present observations. Some of them have already been addressed successfully and solved, others remain still open. One of these aspects is the wavelength calibration of spectrographs. Recently we have identified possible solutions to this limitation by the use of laser-frequency combs. They deliver spectral coverage, sufficient spectral information and perfect stability, parameters which are difficult to obtain in the infrared wavelength domain otherwise. We aim at adapting such a system for astronomical applications, test it in laboratory, and use it on existing and future instruments. Two key points were still missing, however: A simple, compact and stable solution for the infrared, and a practical implementation of it. The first is solved through a close collaboration with the group of Prof. Kippenberg at EPFL, who is an international specialist in the domain. Through this collaboration the relevant technology will be transferred to the Geneva Observatory and adapted for our applications. The second aspect will be covered by the CSEM. During the period covered by this proposal we will set up a collaboration with CSEM and define a path to be followed and aiming at stabilization and ‘industrialization’ of this microcomb technology.The many results obtained in the field of exoplanets arise to a significant fraction from our successful participation to instrumentation projects. They deliver to us the required experience but also the observing time for carrying out our programs. This fact has recently been recognized by the Geneva University who decided to strengthen the domain of instrumentation by appointing a new professorship (F. Pepe). The field of extra-solar planets is evolving very rapidly, however. In order to keep pace with continuously new challenges we need to extend our domain of competence. This proposal will help consolidating the Swiss leadership and provide essential tools for future projects and programs in the Era of Extremely-Large Telescopes and space projects.
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