Get your Unistellar eVscopes and help observe an exoplanet this weekend!
Published 1/11/2020 in Dan's Cosmic Diary Author Dan Peluso
Dear Unistellar eVscope users, Want to be involved in something innovative like participating in the very first Unistellar exoplanet detection campaign? Then charge your eVscope and get ready because we need your help this weekend! My name is Dan Peluso and I am doing my PhD in astrophysics with Franck Marchis (astronomer at the SETI Institute) and as a portion of my research I want to see if it is possible for any astronomy enthusiast around the world to coordinate with planet hunting scientists like us to help contribute to the search for planets around other stars (a.k.a. exoplanets). Exoplanet searches usually... read more ❯

The exoplanet Beta Pictoris b. And yet it moves
Published 12/5/2019 in Gemini Planet Imager Author Franck Marchis
Eric Nielsen, formerly a post-doc at the SETI Institute and now a researcher at Stanford University, led a study of the planet beta Pictoris b that combined direct observation of the planet recorded with the Gemini Planet Imager with additional data from space and ground-based observations. The team estimated the mass of this distant planet to be eight to sixteen times that of Jupiter and found that it likely has an elliptical orbit. A video shows the motion of the planet around its star, something that was inconceivable fifteen years ago. Since it was installed on the Gemini-South telescope in 2013,... read more ❯

Finding Kuiper Belt 2.0
Published 8/27/2019 in Gemini Planet Imager Author Franck Marchis
A team of astronomers led by Bin Ren (The Johns Hopkins University) imaged the debris disk system around star HD 191089 using the GPI instrument, located at 160 light-year away from us. The structure of the debris disk around this younger sibling of our Sun is strikingly similar to our own Kuiper Belt. New technology available maybe in 2030s, like the giant space telescopes (HabEx & LUVOIR) could one day tell if there is also an Earth 2.0 with the Belt delivering water right now, or is there an exotic world that we have never seen or imagined, or maybe... read more ❯

Wonderful Potentially Habitable Worlds Around TRAPPIST-1
Published 2/22/2017 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
In May 2016, Michael Gillon and his team announced the discovery of three Earth-sized exoplanets around TRAPPIST-1, an ultra cool M-dwarf star, using the small TRAPPIST telescope at ESO-La Silla, Chile. It was an exciting discovery—yet on that day no one could possibly have imagined that less than a year later they would make another significant discovery involving the same system. But here we are: today, they announced in Nature the discovery of seven potentially habitable Earth-like worlds. The star, named TRAPPIST-1, is a fairly inconspicuous star in our Milky Way.... read more ❯

AGU 2015 session: Direct Imaging of Habitable Exoplanets: Progress and Future
Published 12/15/2015 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
Join us tomorrow at the AGU Fall Meeting for a session on direct imaging of habitable exoplanets that I organized with my colleagues Ramses Ramirez from Cornell University and David Black. This session consists in a discussion on the potential of new and future facilities and modeling efforts designed to detect, image and characterize habitable exoplanets, studying their formation, evolution and also the existence of possible biospheres. Topics to be covered in this session include signs of exoplanet habitability and global biosignatures that can be sought with upcoming... read more ❯

Gemini Planet Imager Exoplanet Survey -- One Year Into The Survey
Published 11/12/2015 in Gemini Planet Imager Author Franck Marchis
Thursday, November 12 2015 - 9:00 am, PST AAS/SETI Institute press release presented at the DPS 2015 at National Harbor, MD, USA The Gemini Planet Imager Exoplanet Survey (GPIES)... read more ❯

What do we know about planet formation?
Published 9/16/2015 in Gemini Planet Imager Author Roman Rafikov
Understanding how planets form in the Universe is one of the main motivations for GPI. Thanks to its advanced design, GPI specializes in finding and studying giant planets that are similar to Jupiter in our solar system. These are the kind of planets whose origin we hope to understand much better after our survey is complete. We know that planets form within protoplanetary disks that orbit young stars, and gas giants need to be fully formed within 3-10 million years... read more ❯

What Self-Luminous Planets are Like
Published 9/2/2015 in Gemini Planet Imager Author Jonathan Forney
The planets that we are familiar with in our own solar system have evolved, aged, and cooled, for over 4.5 billion years since the Sun and planets formed. What do planets look like at younger ages? Can we use the light that a planet emits to understand its past history? When we look at a planet like Jupiter with our eyes, the light that we see is Sunlight that is reflected back to us at Earth, scattered by clouds and gasses in the planet’s atmosphere. But what would Jupiter look like if we instead could see only its thermal “heat” emission,... read more ❯

The VLT exoplanet hunter SPHERE is offered to the community
Published 8/28/2014 in Julien Girard Author jgirard
SPHERE, the extreme adaptive optics facility, high contrast imager spectrograph and polarimeter of the Very Large Telescope, is now offered to the community for P95 (April-Sept 2015, please look at the Call for Proposals). It has unique capabilities that make it a fantastic high-resolution, high-contrast disk imager with a field of view up to 11" (much bigger than most of its main competitors). Material is available online to help you write your proposals. SPHERE can lock its AO on fainter stars than GPI, up to R=11 for service mode and up to R~15 in visitor... read more ❯

Characterizing the exoplanet HD 95086b with GPI.
Published 4/26/2014 in Gemini Planet Imager Author Franck Marchis
Another week and yet another article based on GPI data has been accepted for publication. A team led by a European astronomer has analyzed observations of the planetary system named HD 95086, which has been known since last year for hosting an exoplanet, named HD 95086b. GPI data was extremely useful in confirming that the planet is co-moving with its star and in constraining its properties, such as its temperature and composition. HD 95086... read more ❯

The orbit of the exoplanet Beta Pictoris b - The first peer-reviewed article with GPI
Published 4/4/2014 in Gemini Planet Imager Author Franck Marchis
Following our very successful first light observing runs in late 2013, the first publication based on Gemini Planet Imager observations is now complete!  It has been accepted for publication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciencesas part of a special issue on exoplanets, and is now available on Astro-ph. We report in this publication the performance of the Gemini Planet Imager based on the first light tests. The first scientific result demonstrates that right from the start, GPI has been performing well enough to yield new insights into exoplanets: Our astrometric observations from November 2013  gave us important new... read more ❯

The Next Step in Exoplanetary Science: Imaging New Worlds
Published 12/28/2013 in Gemini Planet Imager Author Franck Marchis
In 2003, I was lucky enough to be part of a small group of astronomers that met at the University of California at Berkeley to brainstorm on an innovative idea: the design of an instrument to image and characterize planets around other stars, called exoplanets, using a telescope in the 8 – 10 meter class. A decade later, such an instrument became reality with the arrival of the Gemini Planet Imager (called also GPI, or “Gee-pie”) instrument at the Gemini South telescope in Chile. Five known planetary systems imaged with current adaptive optics systems. Fomalhaut shown on... read more ❯

GPI is ready for its new location in Chile
Published 8/2/2013 in Gemini Planet Imager Author Franck Marchis
It is now official, The Gemini Planet Imager ("Gee-pi") is ready for shipping to Chile. This decision was taken on July 19 after the positive pre-delivery acceptance review. From its current home at the University of California Santa Cruz, the instrument’s Integral Field Spectrograph (IFS) began its warm-up a week later (July 25th), and the computers were shut-down two days ago (July 31st). GPI is going to be carefully packed for a long trip to Chile. The instrument will be shipped... read more ❯

Pre-delivery acceptance review in progress
Published 7/19/2013 in Gemini Planet Imager Author Franck Marchis
The Gemini Planet Imager’s (GPI’s) team just went through a 2-week review period which began on the July 8th. During the formal “sit-down review” at the University of California Santa Cruz, a total of 28 people, including staff from Gemini and the GPI project team, were physically attending the review and a number of others were participating remotely. A group picture was taken to immortalize this important moment in the life of this project (Thanks to Marshall Perrin). Group picture of the GPI Pre-Delivery Acceptance Review taken at UC Santa Cruz Front row: Kayla Hardie, Jennifer Dunn, Stephen... read more ❯

Being in Toronto for the GPI Science Workshop... remotely
Published 6/14/2012 in Gemini Planet Imager Author Daniel Fabrycky
The Gemini Planet Imager Exoplanet Survey team held a meeting at the University of Toronto June 13-14, 2012. The purpose was to get updated on the hardware and pipeline, anticipating the installation of the instrument at the Gemini South telescope later this year. We also discussed key science contributions we expect GPI to make, in preparation for the first raft of papers from the survey. For instance, I had a 30 minute talk on (1) how the GPI-discovered planets will connect to the populations studied by other techniques, (2) what we're learning about planetary systems from dynamical investigations and the... read more ❯