RoPACS: Rocky Planets Around Cool Stars

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RoPACS, one of the big collaborations I am involved, is a European network which has the goal of training PhD students in the field of the exoplanet search and characterization (by the way, we are opening 11 positions in several countries across Europe). The network is being coordinated by David Pinfield, from the Hertfordshire University. In order to achieve this aim, we are exploiting the WFCAM Transit survey, an ambitious project which has been granted several hundred nights at the UKIRT telescope over the next few years. We are monitoring a significant amount of M dwarfs in the near infrared, trying to detect subtle changes in their light curves which might be induced by the presence of planets. Since M dwarfs emit most of their energy at those wavelengths, and since relative size between the fiducial planet and the host star is larger (ie, the deeps in the light curves are more relevant), we do believe this is the best strategy to detect a rocky planet: am Earth-like body orbiting around other star.

During the last two days, I have organized the “kick-off meeting” at the “Centro de Astrobiología“, a face-to-face lively discussion where we have been able to clarify several issues and define the best startegy for the future. It has been a little bit exhausting (hotel booking, transportation, etc), but the effort has been worth it and I hope we will have interesting results soon enough.


About dbarrado

Born in Madrid, Spain, David Barrado completed a degree in physics, specializing in astrophysics, at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. At this same university he started work on a doctorate that he would go on to complete at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) in Cambridge (USA). He then spent several years as a post-doctoral researcher at a number of institutes in the United States (including as a Fulbright scholar during his time at CfA), Germany (Max-Planck Institut für Astronomie, in Heidelberg) and Spain (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid). David now works at the European Space Astronomy Center (ESAC, Madrid) as a member of the National Technical Aerospace Institute (INTA), part of the Astrobiology Center (CAB), a combined institute made up of INTA and the Center for Higher Scientific Research (CSIC). With the INTA team he led research on the MIRI, an infrared instrument that will fly with the forthcoming space telescope, the JWST. He has also been involved in the development of a number of other astronomical instruments. For two years he was head of the Stellar and Exoplanets Astrophysics Laboratory, as a member of the CAB, and later Director of the Hispano-German Astronomy Center observatory in Calar Alto for three years. His research interests focus on the properties of stars in open star clusters, as well as detecting and characterizing substellar objects and exoplanets. More generally he has specialized in studying the formation of stars and planetary systems using various observational techniques: from visible light to distant infrared, using images and spectroscopes, via both terrestrial and space telescopes. This observation work has seen him publish close to one hundred and fifty articles in prestigious scientific journals. He also combines his research with tireless outreach activities. With Spanish blog, Cuaderno de Bitacora Estelar (see http://www.madrimasd.org/blogs/astrofisica/) has a very large audience.

One Response to RoPACS: Rocky Planets Around Cool Stars

  1. infrared astronomy…

    (Blogger now has backlinks – very similar to the trackback feature in Movable Type. Some weblog software programs, such as WordPress,…

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