National Centre of Competence in Research PlanetS
Gesellschaftsstrasse 6 | CH-3012 Bern | Switzerland
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Planetary Atmospheres

Project Leader: Prof. F. Pepe
One of the most exciting questions, the habitability of exoplanets, cannot be answered without understanding what they are composed of and how their atmospheres look like. The combination of transit and radial velocity observations provides us direct access to the average density of planets and thus their bulk structure. The study of transmitted, reflected and emitted light of a planet gives access to crucial information on the atmospheric structure and composition, like the pressure-temperature profile, atmospheric scale height, heat redistribution pattern, abundance of various chemical species, presence of clouds or hazes. Atmospheric constituents also provide further important constraints on the bulk composition of the planet, which may not be unambiguously determined by the measured radius and mass alone. The understanding of the interaction between the inner structure and the atmosphere will be fundamental to obtain a complete picture.


HARPS transmission spectrum of HD189733b around the sodium Na I D lines after subtraction of the stellar spectrum.




Dr. Ch. Lovis

The first step in the understanding of exoplanetary atmospheres is their observation. Learn how in this subproject we will use existing and future instrumentation to detect signatures from exoplanetary atmospheres. Data reduction, analysis and mining play a crucial role, as well. This sub-project will make extensive use of the DACE platform in order to best exploit available data and models.


Building high-fidelity spectrographs

Dr. F. Wildi

Major steps forward in observational astronomy are often linked to technological progresses. Our group has a long-lasting experience in precision spectro-velocimetry. We aim at extending our experience towards high-fidelity spectroscopy and transfer it on extremely-large telescopes for the observation of faint signals. How? Explore the answer within this sub-project and have a look at the Technology Platform.


Dr. D. Ehrenreich

In order to interpret the observed planetary spectra and make quantitative statements they have to be linked to theoretical models. On the other hand, theory may provide predictions about where, what and how to observe. This sub-project links observations with theoretical modelling (see the Formation & Evolution Project) to make us ‘understand’ the real nature of planets.


Additional information

Presentation slideshow of the project


Eisen und Titan in der Atmosphäre (8/16/2018) - Forschende der Universitäten Bern und Genf haben erstmals in der Atmosphäre eines Exoplaneten Eisen und Titan nachgewiesen. Die Existenz dieser Elemente in Gasform wurde von...
PlanetS-Forscher auf Euronews (1/27/2017) - Der europäische Nachrichten-Fernsehsender Euronews hat das Genfer Observatorium besucht und berichtet in seinem Programme “Space” über “Alternativen zur Erde? Auf der Suche nach Exoplaneten”
NIRPS, der rote Arm von HAPRS (12/14/2015) - Das Genfer Observatorium und Mitglieder von PlanetS werden sich bald an der Konstruktion eines neuen Instruments beteiligen, das Planeten mit Hilfe der Radialgeschwindigkeits-Methode entdecken kann....


PhD Student
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Research associate
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Senior Researcher
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Project Leader P3.6
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Project Leader P3.2
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PhD Student
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Platform Leader Technology Transfer
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Software Engineer
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