Understanding how unusual Earth is may help humanity to appreciate how special it is.

August 2019: More than 4100 planets are known to orbit stars far beyond the solar system, in planetary systems very different to our own. There may well be hundreds of billions of extrasolar planets in the Milky Way alone. These planets include planetary types not found among the eight planets that orbit our Sun, including mini-Neptunes, super-Earths, rogue or nomad planets and hot gas-giant planets. Are we therefore alone in the Universe? To answer this pertinent question, we seek to understand the formation and evolution of our own solar system and the reasons for this rich planetary diversity.

The Centre for Exoplanet Science brings together researchers from different disciplines to find out how planets form in different galactic environments, how their atmospheres evolve, and the relation between the evolutionary history of planets and the emergence of life. We are further interested in the moral, ethical and technical aspects of detecting existent or extinct extra-terrestrial life in distant exosystems, or within our own solar system, and the significance of such a discovery for our societies.

The Centre for Exoplanet Science builds on the rich legacy of the SUPA Astrobiology initiative.

The Centre for Exoplanet Science currently combines research from the School of Physics & Astronomy (Astronomy), the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, the Department of Philosophy, the School of Biology and the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of St Andrews.

We are collaborating with the   Centre for Exoplanet Science   at the University of Edinburgh.

Centre for Exoplanet Science  –  PhD Scholarship in Literature and Data Science

"Turning Science Fiction into Data Science"

What happens when we treat books as data? Can literary theory ever meet scientific standards? By applying a range of historical and current methods of quantitative analysis to a body of science fiction, this project will investigate claims for objectivity in literary theory. Given that science fiction has successfully predicted future scientific discoveries, the data sets created by different methods of quantitative analysis have the potential to influence not only the future of science fiction, but the course of science itself.
By combining the expertise of a literary researcher, exoplanet scientist, and computational biologist as co-supervisors, this doctoral project will be uniquely placed to discover and critique interrelationships between these disciplines.

Applications are invited for a fully funded PhD position at the University of St Andrews Centre for Exoplanet Science. The project will be jointly conducted and supervised at the School of Modern Languages, the School of Biology and the School of Physics & Astronomy.
Deadline:   16 January 2020
Details:   PhD position advert

Centre for Exoplanet Science  –  World-Leading St Andrews Scholarship in Physics and Astronomy

"The Next Step in the Search for Earth-Like Extrasolar Planets"

NASA's Kepler and TESS transit-survey space missions have led to the identification of thousands of candidate planets orbiting other Sun-like stars with radii which in some cases are as small as our own Earth. The radial-velocity method of mass determination, pioneered by 2019 Nobel prizewinners Michel Mayor (Geneva) and Didier Queloz (Cambridge), offers direct measurement of an extra-solar planet's mass.
At Earth-like distances from Sun-like stars, where a planet might conceivably harbour liquid water, further characterisation has been hampered by stray signals from sunspots and turbulence in the host stars' outer layers. A novel mathematical technique has been developed by Professor Andrew Cameron that strips away these confusing signals. This doctoral project will exploit the opportunities arising from this development.

The University of St Andrews is pleased to offer a full scholarship funded by St Leonard's Postgraduate College, to support an exceptional student undertaking doctoral research in this project. The successful candidate will be supervised by Professor Andrew Cameron and based in the School of Physics & Astronomy.
Deadline:   16 January 2020
Details:   scholarship description on the University webpage.


StA-CES Journal Club / Reading Group

StA-CES members present research papers from their research areas.
Contact: Oliver Herbort, Dominic Samra, Elliott Fogg

Monday 20 Jan 2020:  13:00h,  room 222,  Physics & Astronomy.
Dominic Samra will present a paper on which he is also co-author: Molaverdikhani et al. 2020, 'Understanding the atmospheric properties and chemical composition of the ultra-hot Jupiter HAT-P-7b II. Mapping the effects of gas kinetics'.


Spring lunch time meetings

We will have four lunch time meetings planned for our Centre for Exoplanet Science in spring 2020:
3 February 2020, 13-14:00h:   "Sci-Fi planet(s)"
Introduce a Sci-Fi planet! Do most SciFi authors have a narrow, Earth-centric view on exoplanets? Are their planets as biodiverse as our Earth?
2 March 2020, 13-14:00:   "The Inverse Problem"
27 April 2020, 13-14:00h, Gateway Boardroom
18 May 2020, 13-14:00h, Gateway Boardroom
All meetings will take place in the Gateway Boardroom, North Haugh, 13-14:00h. Catering will be provied. You are all very welcome to join us.

CHAMELEON   'Virtual Laboratories for Exoplanets and Planet-Forming Disks'   (Marie Curie Innovative Training Network)

The Centre for Exoplanet Science invites applications for 15 PhD places as part of the Marie Curie Innovative Training Network project CHAMELEON 'Virtual Laboratories for Exoplanets and Planet-Forming Disks'  for double-degrees involving the universities of St Andrews, Antwerp, Copenhagen, Edinburgh, Groningen and Leuven, as well as SRON/Utrecht and MPIA/Heidelberg.

‣  ESR3:  "Cloud formation in 3D exoplanet atmospheres"
‣  ESR5:  "Microphysics of cloud formation: The path to heterogeneous nucleation"
‣  ESR6:  "Charge conservation and cloud formation in planet atmospheres"
‣  ESR7:  "Grain charges and lightning in disks"
‣  ESR8:  "The warm chemistry in the inner disk"
‣  ESR9:  "Machine learning from complex disk models"

Details about the projects and the required application material can be found on the CHAMELEON webpage.
Note that the deadlines vary from December 2019 to February 2020.

Les Houches School of Physics

Cloud Academy II

Dates:   8 - 13 March 2020
Venue:   Les Houches School for Physics
Cloud Academy II   will focus on physical models for cloud and haze formation in planetary atmospheres in different radiation environments, and include reviews on exoplanet observations and laboratory studies.
The previous session (e.g. Cloud Academy I ) focused on atmosphere circulation and the general concept of cloud formation in exoplanet and solar system planets. The present session forges a closer link to observations through detailed atmosphere models as exoplanet research is now developing into the characterization of exoplanets. We therefore aim to establish an ongoing effort to help the community keep up to date and exchange ideas on this rapidly developing field.
The official program of the school starts on 9 March 2020, 9:00h.
( more info )