Arianna Musso Barcucci (Italy)
musso @ mpia.de
Search and Characterisation of Exoplanets
The field of extrasolar planets is in rapid growth, with around 1900 confirmed exoplanets and more than 3800 other candidates.
The vast majority of the planets discovered so far has been detected using the transit method and the Radial Velocity (RV) technique. However, both methods have non-negligible detection biases and limitations such that important questions remain unanswered. Both are intrinsically biased toward short-period planets and both usually avoid young stars.
Therefore, the occurrence rate of long-period giant planets is still theoretically highly uncertain and observationally very poorly constrained. It is governed by the Protoplanetary Disk structure and planet formation process, and it will reflect dynamical re-structuring processes after planet formation. Both migration processes as well as dynamical interactions between planets can change dramatically the architecture of planetary systems between birth and maturity. Hence, there is an explicit scientific demand to find and characterise giant exoplanets in wide orbits around young stars.
In this frame, the direct imaging technique brings undeniable advantages, allowing to independently constraint planet’s properties and providing information that are complementary to the other indirect techniques. It is also sensitive to larger separation, thus probing regions that are forbidden for the other methods.
The NACO-ISPY survey is a ~4 years project that focuses on two kinds of young nearby objects: targets with Protoplanetary Disks (PPD) with evidences that suggest the presence of a still embedded giant planet, and Debris Disk targets.
Moreover, an incoming LBT project solely dedicated to PPD objects will extend this survey to the North hemisphere, thus improving the detection probability and allowing a more complete statistical analysis.
Supervisor: Thomas Henning (MPIA)