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 ❯

Gemini Planet Image joined the Cosmic Diary Network
Published 6/12/2012 in Gemini Planet Imager Author Franck Marchis
The Gemini Planet Imager team is joining the Cosmic Diary Network. GPI is the next generation adaptive optics instrument being built for the Gemini South Telescope. The goal is to image extrasolar planets orbiting nearby stars. The GPI team will use this blog to show the progress on the development of this instrument and discuss the science results which will be obtained in 2013. WHO: GPI is being built by a consortium of U.S. and Canadian institutions, funded by the Gemini Observatory, which is an international partnership comprising the U.S.A., U.K., Canada, Australia, Argentina, Brazil & Chile. WHEN: After more than 5 years of development (preliminary design review... read more ❯

A Snapshot of Exoplanet Study
Published 5/2/2012 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
The study of exoplanets is without any doubt the most active and disrupting field in today astronomy. I had often blogged about it since it is my little obsession. Unfortunately, I have a hard time to keep up with the amount of discoveries and announcements being made every week over the past 3 years. This post is a snapshot of the recent study of exoplanets: what we know, what have been recently discovered and what is coming soon. Source: en.wikipedia.org via Franck on Pinterest Today (May 2 2012) the Extrasolar Planets Encyclopaedia lists the characteristics of 763 exoplanets.  Exoplanet App contains 760 discovered exoplanets. The NASA Planet... read more ❯

“Floating” planets: questions from a journalist
Published 5/20/2011 in David Barrado Author dbarrado
1/ Do you think these free floating planets, detected by micro-lensing very far away from us, are the same objects than those you observed years ago in the Sigma Orionis cluster? There are two options (for both types): either they have been formed in a similar way as stars (collapse and fragmentation of molecular clouds, with all their variations -effect of strong winds by massive, nearby stars, dynamical interactions due to close encounters, etc), or in a way similar to the planets in the Solar System (from the material left from the formation of the central star, which is organized as... read more ❯

Planet Formation in Action?
Published 2/24/2011 in David Barrado Author dbarrado
Amazing results from my friend Nuria Huélamo and her collaborators .... From the ESO website: "Using ESO’s Very Large Telescope an international team of astronomers has been able to study the short-lived disc of material around a young star that is in the early stages of making a planetary system. For the first time a smaller companion could be detected that may be the cause of the large gap found in the disc. Future observations will determine whether this companion is a planet or a brown dwarf." I recommend the video, wonderful. More here read more ❯

Renovation of the German-Spanish agreement for the future of Calar Alto
Published 12/10/2010 in David Barrado Author dbarrado
After many moths and a lot of work .... (and this is one of the reasons why I was not active writing posts, or in science) .... We have an agreement! Calar Alto Observatory (Almería, Southern Spain) will continue it scientific operations up to the end of 2018. I am attaching the press release. On December 2nd 2010, the German Max Planck Society (MPG) and Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) have signed an agreement in order to operate the Calar Alto Observatory at the German-Spanish Astronomical Centre during the period 2014-2018. The German-Spanish Astronomical Centre (CAHA) is a joint venture of the... read more ❯

The confirmation of the first super-Earth
Published 9/16/2009 in David Barrado Author dbarrado
I have to confess that sometimes I am very tired of my trips: conferences, workshops, meetings, observing runs... I hate airports, I do not like the security and the waste of time, and I would prefer to avoid the effect of all these trips in my social life, since I spend a significant amount of time away. However ... sometimes (or many) is wonderful. I am in Barcelona, for the conference "Pathways toward habitable exoplanets". Today, a member of the Corot/HARPS team has announced the confirmation by radial velocities techniques of the first super-planet: Corot-7b, and the detection of a second planet... read more ❯

A new exoplanet approaching the mass of Earth
Published 4/21/2009 in David Barrado Author dbarrado
In the JENAM (European Astronomical Society Meeting), in England ... plenty of wonderful results. Of course, from my point of view, the most important is the announcement by Michael Mayor of a new exoplanet, with an extremely low mass, only twice the earth value (although it depends on the inclination of the orbit). I have a kind of déjà vu. I was in Florence 14 years ago when he announced the discovered the first exoplanet orbiting around a solar type star. It amazement how far we have gone in these few years, and the group of Prof. Mayor has played a... read more ❯

RoPACS: Rocky Planets Around Cool Stars
Published 1/30/2009 in David Barrado Author dbarrado
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... read more ❯