Astronomy |



PLATO and CHEOPS are two European Space Agency missions aimed at characterising exoplanets. CHEOPS is an S-class mission (small mission in ESA’s science program) which aims to characterise exoplanets already known to be orbiting around nearby bright stars. CHEOPS will target Earth- to Neptune-sized planets. PLATO is an M-class mission (medium size mission) aimed at finding  terrestrial exoplanets in orbits out to the habitable zone (HZ) of solar-type stars …

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Beta Pictoris is one of the most ideal targets for studying planet formation. The young 23 Myr system consists of a bright central star (easily visible with the naked eye) surrounded by a edge-on debris disk composed of dust and gas. The system has also been photographed repeatedly with direct imaging (discovery paper) which has revealed the presence of a giant planet which we see moving here (the star …

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High resolution up-to-date images of the PLATO exoplanet mission are hard to find. I’ll collect high resolution PLATO images here as I come across them. Download Image3500 x 2121 pixels, 3.6 MBCopyright: OHB System AGCredit: OHB System AG


Our new paper is out today on the first detection of nitrogen in the famous planetary system: β Pictoris. The debris disc surrounding β Pictoris has a gas composition rich in carbon and oxygen, relative to solar abundances. Two possible scenarios have been proposed to explain this enrichment: 1. The gas being naturally rich in C and O. 2. Radiation pressure from the star expels the gas outwards, leaving …

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Credit: T. Pyle (SSC), JPL-Caltech, NASA.

This summer will be the first time that we’ll be able to observe the Hill sphere of a directly imaged exoplanet as it passes in front of its host star! The exoplanet, Beta Pictoris b, is a young (~20 million years old) planet orbiting the star beta Pictoris. Here is an image showing the planet photographed in 2003 and then later in 2009: As chance would have it, we see …

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I came across this image whilst doing some work and it made me halt my work for a bit as I was taken by it’s beauty. What is seen is an extremely tiny part of the sky, which like any other part of the sky, is just filled with galaxies which each one of them host on the order of a hundred billion stars. In fact, if you look …

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The HARPS Spectrograph

The dwelling of the HARPS intrument One of today’s highlights was seeing the room where the HARPS instrument is being kept. For it be able to achieve accurate radial velocity measurements the instrument has be kept at a constant temperature and pressure. I was fortunate to be shown the room where the instrument is kept locked inside a carefully monitored subroom. Due to us humans emitting heat, the visit had to be rather quick and we …

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Clear to cloudy hot Jupiters

Here I will go through the steps I use when deciding on which exoplanet to observe using an amateur telescope. Step 1: Find objects which are bright enough. Go to the and from the drop down menu on the upper left choose transit planets. Then press the big plus button (+) on the right and choose V mag under stellar params. You can move this table header next to …

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