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, the Department of Social Anthropology and the School of Modern Languages (Russian) at the University of St Andrews.
We are collaborating with the Centre for Exoplanet Science at the University of Edinburgh.
StA-CES members present research papers from their research areas.
Contact: Patrick Barth, Ancy Anna John, Till Käufer.
This semester each lunchtime meeting will feature a different theme, and with each meeting being headed up by a member of a different School, the series promises to be a real mind-expanding experience for all of us! The schedule is as follows:
21 September 2020, School of International Relations: Adam Bower, "Power, norms, and law in space security governance"
12 October 2020, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences: Eva Stüecken, "Limits of knowledge in Earth Sciences and beyond"
9 November 2020, School of Physics and Astronomy: Martin Dominik, "Natural resource in a finite universe"
14 December 2020, School of Biology & School of Philosophical, Anthropological, and Film Studies: V. Anne Smith and Ben Sachs, "The Value of Exoplanet Life"
All meetings are from 1-2pm and will be held on MS Teams.
The aim of the book club is to read and discuss books that feature thought-provoking portrayals of exoplanet environments (and in a lot of cases also extraterrestrial life). In discussing these works, we can learn from each other as well as from the books – they might even give us some ideas for our own research.
All members are welcome to join at any time! We wil be meeting about once every two months in the evening.
The first book we are reading is 'Aurora' by Kim Stanley Robinson (2015). It is about a generation ship traveling to Tau Ceti, and is narrated by the ship's Artificial Intelligence.
Our first meeting is scheduled for Tuesday 17 November 2020, 6-7pm on MS Teams. If you have questions please contact Emma Puranen.
Following its launch in mid-December 2019 and subsequent orbital manoeuvers, the Swiss-led ESA exoplanetary transit-photometry space mission CHEOPS has undertaken an extensive commissioning phase. The spacecraft recently passed its in-orbit commissioning review. Throughout its lifetime so far St Andrews's and StA-CES's very own Tom Wilson has conducted the lion's share of the data analysis that led to validation of the mission's prime science performance requirements and paved the way from commissioning to imminent science observations!
Press release: First results from Cheops: ESA’s exoplanet observer reveals extreme alien world
Article: The hot dayside and asymmetric transit of WASP-189 b seen by CHEOPS
Retrieving (from data), predicting (from detailed models) and thereby understanding the link between the chemical composition of planet-forming disks and exoplanet atmospheres is a challenging task. In this Marie Curie Innovative Training Network (MC-ITN), we focus on the development of Virtual Laboratories which will be the crucial tool to analyse in detail current and future disk and exoplanet observations.
Virtual laboratories play a key role in simulating yet unexplored physico-chemical environments. In addition, while observational data are often hampered by incompleteness in terms of frequency coverage, time coverage, different instrument systematics when combining data etc., Virtual Laboratories can overcome these shortcomings and are a key pre-requisite to answer the questions whether our Solar System is unique and how life emerged.
In these Virtual Laboratories, we combine existing, well-tested theoretical modelling tools of varying complexity to explore their combined strength, limits, and the need for new techniques. Virtual Laboratories use advanced numerical and statistical methods that comprise input from astrophysics, computational chemistry, laboratory and theoretical physics, geosciences, mathematics, and computer sciences. The complex models embedded in the Virtual Laboratories allow for physical and chemical processes and their interplay to be tested, their implications to be assessed, and ultimately a coherent picture to be derived, based on a fundamental, reliable, and traceable science.