National Centre of Competence in Research PlanetS
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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


The hunt for exo-Earth liveable is open. (12/23/2014) - The vacuum tank of ESPRESSO The Geneva observatory received the vacuum tank Stunned for Wins ESPRESSO, DE the new spectrometer which wholesale mlb jerseys should...
Hot and stormy at high altitudes (4/13/2015) - Studying the atmosphere of an exoplanet, astronomers of the NCCR PlanetS derived a temperature profile with unprecedented precision. Their results are based on data collected...
The spectrum of 51peg b 20 years after (5/14/2015) - 51pegb: 20 years after its discovery, astronomers have managed to obtain its spectrum.   Remarkable success of an international team of astronomers including members of...
Operation on HARPS’ open heart (6/4/2015) - In 10 years we have learned to improve the performance of optical fibers including giving them an octagonal shape. A team at the Geneva Observatory...
Ten times better than HARPS (6/4/2015) - Developers and future users of ESPRESSO gathered in Geneva to discuss the challenges raised by the new instrument and its outstanding accuracy. By Pierre Bratschi,...
A planet disguised as a comet (6/25/2015) - Astronomers from the University of Geneva (UNIGE) and members of the NCCR -for National Centre of Competence in Research- PlanetS disco- vered an immense cloud...
Optical bench of ESPRESSO has arrived (9/23/2015) - After the arrival of the vacuum vessel that was installed last October 2014 in a temporary clean room, it is now the turn of the...
The most stable source of light (9/23/2015) - To test the accuracy and stability of the CHEOPS photometer, a light source with a variability of less than the 20 ppm is required for...
NIRPS, the red arm of HARPS (12/14/2015) - In association with the Canadians from the Montreal University and Brasilian colleagues from the Natal University, the Geneva Observatory and members of the NCCR PlanetS...


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Platform Leader Technology Transfer
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Software Engineer
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