25 April 2022
Mysteries of gas giants known as ‘hot Jupiters’ unravelled - major new study led by UCL researchers
The study, published in The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series, is one of the largest ever surveys of exoplanet atmospheres ever undertaken. Researchers employed high performance computers at the DiRAC HPC facility to analyse the atmospheres of 25 hot Jupiters using data from about 1,000 hours of telescope observations.
Hot Jupiters are gas giants that orbit close to their star, typically in less than 10 days. While there are none in our own solar system, they are a commonly observed type of planet outside it.
By using a large sample of exoplanets and analysing an extremely large amount of data, the researchers were able to determine trends and resolve questions that smaller studies have been unable to conclusively answer over many years.
To continue reading, please click:
Image: Artist’s impression of 25 hot Jupiters. Credit: ESA/Hubble, N. Bartmann
Congratulations to Quentin Changeat on being awarded the Jon Darius Memorial Prize!
In Quentin's own words: "I am very honoured to receive the Darius prize for the completion of my thesis. This is a very emotional moment for me as it concludes three years of hard work and very good fun. I feel extremely lucky to have been provided with the opportunity to perform my research in the Astro group: working in such an ideal environment and with brilliant colleagues. In particular, I am very thankful to Giovanna and Ingo for bringing me into this adventure and providing me extensive support along the way."
11 January 2022
The second paper produced by the ExoClock team has been accepted for publication by the Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series!
The paper is a collective study of updated ephemerides for 180 planets which are included in the Mission Reference Sample of the Ariel space mission. The paper has 105 co-authors including professional, amateur Astronomers and also university and high school students.
Impact for the Ariel Space Mission - The results show that small and medium sized telescopes can observe the targets and successfully monitor their ephemerides. On this way, the efficiency of the ariel mission is increased to the maximum. Small telescopes by amateur Astronomers contribute to real science having a high impact to the mission. The updated ephemerides were produced as a result of a combination of data: 1600 observations from the ExoClock network, 2500 mid-time points from the literature and 18 observations provided by the Exoplanet Transit Database (ETD).
Our goal is double: increase the efficiency of the ariel space mission and bring people from different backgrounds together and work in a collaborative spirit.
“Science is for everyone, and we are very happy that through the project everyone can be part of a real space mission. Our observers come from more than 30 countries and have different backgrounds. Every contribution counts and becomes valuable in ExoClock. It is wonderful to see so many people willing to learn and participate in a space mission. Our team keeps growing daily with participants from all over the world.” said Anastasia Kokori, ExoClock project coordinator.
01 December 2021
Dr Gordon Yip and Dr Quentin Changeats article “AI can reliably spot molecules on exoplanets – and might one day even discover new laws of physics” has been published on The Conversation. To read the full article, please click here.
07 October 2021
Congratulations to Nour Skaf, CSED Honorary PhD Student, who was awarded the L'Oréal-Unesco For Women in Science Rising Talent Prize 2021
Nour was awarded the prize for her research about direct imaging of extrasolar planets. The award ceremony took place at the Institut Henri Poincaré in Paris, on October 7th.
Nour is enrolled in a PhD at LESIA (Observatoire de Paris-PSL) working on "The self-optimisation of adaptive optics (OA) for the study of exoplanets in direct imaging”. She carries out her research jointly between LESIA, UCL-CSED, and the SCExAO team at the Subaru telescope in Hawaii. She is part of the Ariel consortium, ESA’s next space mission aiming at studying exoplanet atmospheres.
The grant coming along with the L'Oréal-UNESCO prize will help her have a sophisticated coronograph manufactured, which will allow to make the link between her research projects by combining the gain in imaging with spectroscopy.
Nour is also very involved in outreach in astronomy and astrophysics. Passionate about night sky photography and nature, she is very active at alerting the general public to the fragility and unique beauty of our planet.
04 October 2021
With great anticipation, the newest version of the open-source framework TauREx 3.1 is finally available to the public!
The UCL team, led by Dr Ahmed Al-Refaie, has worked hard to bring new groundbreaking features and performance improvements to the community.
TauREx 3.1 features the new plugin system, allowing anyone to enhance and grow the framework with minimal effort. Accompanied with this release, TauREx 3.1 has plugins for blazing-fast GPU modelling, new chemistries, samplers, opacities and even other spectral codes! Our most recent publication exploits this powerful feature to compare the exoplanet chemistry codes ACE, Fastchem and GGChem, demonstrating their consistency in modelling exo-atmospheres.
TauREx 3.1 is central to CSED commitment to open science and plan to publish its research software open source.
30 September 2021
Congratulations to Dr Ingo Waldmann, CSED Deputy Director, who has been appointed Fellow of The Alan Turing Institute!
15 September 2021
Artificial intelligence (AI) experts from around the world have been competing for the opportunity to help astronomers to explore planets in our local galactic neighbourhood.
The European Space Agency’s Ariel telescope, which launches in 2029, will study the atmospheres of around 1000 planets outside our solar system, known as exoplanets. Observing faint signals to measure the make-up of exoplanet atmospheres is incredibly challenging and is made even more so by other signals the instrument may pick up. The effect of star activity, like sun spots, and even the noise of the spacecraft itself can obscure the information scientists receive from Ariel.
The Ariel Machine Learning Data Challenge, sponsored by Spaceflux Ltd, was set to harness the expertise of the artificial intelligence community to help disentangle this unwanted noise from the light filtering through exoplanet atmospheres. Over 110 teams from around the world participated with 35 teams submitting viable solutions. The teams represented a mix of academia and AI companies.
The competition winners, ML Analytics, an artificial intelligence company in Portugal, and a team from TU Dortmund University in Germany were able to achieve highly accurate solutions for even the most difficult to observe planets.
To continue reading the full press release, follow the link above.
01 April 2021
A new Ariel Machine Learning Data Challenge has been launched called: Machine vs Stellar and Instrument Noise. Check out the website for more information!
11 March 2021
Until the early 2000s, the only known planets were located in our own neighbourhood, the Solar System. They broadly form two categories: the small rocky planets in the inner Solar System and the cold gaseous planets located in the outer part. With the discovery of exoplanets, planets orbiting stars other than the Sun, additional classes of planets were discovered and a new picture started to emerge. Our Solar System is by no means typical.
The European Space Agency (ESA) have formally adopted Ariel, the first mission dedicated to study the nature, formation and evolution of exoplanets. Ariel has passed major feasibility reviews and has been formally adopted into the program of future missions for implementation. It will survey about 1000 planets outside our solar system during its lifetime. Ariel will unveil the nature, formation and evolution of a large and assorted sample of planets around different types of stars in our galaxy. Ariel press release. ESA press release.
11 September 2019
Water vapour has been detected in the atmosphere of a super-Earth with habitable temperatures by UCL researchers in a world first. K2-18b, which is eight times the mass of Earth, is now the only planet orbiting a star outside the Solar System, or ‘exoplanet’, known to have both water and temperatures that could support life. The discovery, published in Nature Astronomy, is the first successful atmospheric detection for an exoplanet orbiting in its star’s ‘habitable zone’, at a distance where water can exist in liquid form.