Paul Heeren (Germany)
p.heeren @ lsw.uni-heidelberg.de
Dynamic evolution of planetary systems
The search for exoplanets has been one of the fastest growing fields in modern astronomy. The sheer number and diversity of alien worlds discovered until today excelled even the most courageous hopes of many scientists only twenty or thirty years ago. Starting soon, a high-resolution Echelle spectrograph located at the Waltz telescope of the Landessternwarte Heidelberg will contribute to this development by monitoring the radial velocities of a sample of G and K giant stars over time, thus searching for potential substellar companions like exoplanets and brown dwarfs. By comparing planets around these giant stars with those found around main-sequence stars we will gain important insight into the effect of primary star properties on the formation and evolution of planets.
The instrument uses the imprinted spectrum of an iodine cell as absolute wavelength scale and will reach a precision of 5 m/s and better. I am working on a data pipeline that will analyse the spectra and compute the radial velocities of the observed stars. In a second step, the collected data points have to be fitted with a model that describes the properties of potential companions in the system. Here, I want to explore the advantage of dynamic models over conventional Keplerian fits, in order to take interactions between multiple planets in a system into account.
Supervisor: Andreas Quirrenbach (LSW)