The SPECULOOS transit survey: hunting for red worlds

Monday 2 July, 12:25

The thorough characterization of temperate terrestrial exoplanets holds the promise of revolutionizing our understanding of rocky worlds by enabling us to assess their diversity at the galactic scale, not only in terms of orbits, but also in terms of atmospheric compositions, surface conditions, and habitability. In this context, the ~1000 nearest ultracool (M7-type and later) dwarf stars are particularly interesting targets for a transit search, as their proximity combined to their small size and faint luminosity should make possible the characterization of a transiting temperate planet as small as the Earth -and even smaller- with upcoming facilities. In this talk, I will present SPECULOOS (Search for habitable Planets EClipsing ULtra-cOOl Stars), a new photometric survey that aims to explore for transits these faint nearby stars. It is based on a network of 1m-class robotic telescopes whose main nodes will be the SPECULOOS-South and SPECULOOS-North Observatories, each composed of four 1m telescopes optimized for high-precision photometry in the very-near-infrared (0.7 to 1 microns). While the installation of SPECULOOS-North has just been initiated at Teide Observatory (Tenerife), SPECULOOS-South is under commissioning at Paranal Observatory (Chile) and should be fully operational at the time of the conference. The high scientific potential of the project was recently established by its discovery of the amazing TRAPPIST-1 (aka SPECULOOS-1) system.

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