ESA's Madrid-Area Exoplanet Science Meeting #1


Uniting all ESA and Madrid-area exoplaneteers for a day of science, discussions, and collaboration.

Tuesday, 04 October 2022, 9:00 - 12:40 Madrid time, online via WebEx





The individual science talk abstracts can be found below:

Bruno Merin (ESA / ESAC): Welcome. I will welcome participants, explain the motivation for the meeting and the meeting logistics.

J. Miguel Mas-Hesse (Centro de Astrobiología (CSIC-INTA)): Brief summary of the PLATO mission. [pdf] [video]

I will summarize very briefly the status of PLATO at mission level and will stress the Spanish contribution to the mission, with special emphasis on the CAB-INTA contribution.

Ingo Waldmann (University College London): The Ariel Machine Learning Challenges. [pdf] [video]

The use of machine and deep learning is prevalent in many fields of science and industry and is now becoming more widespread in extrasolar planet and solar system sciences. Deep learning holds many potential advantages when it comes to modelling highly non-linear data, as well as speed improvements when compared to traditional analysis and modelling techniques. As part of the ESA Ariel Space mission, the European Conference on Machine Learning (ECML-PKDD) and NeurIPS, we have organised three very successful machine learning challenges in 2019, 2021 and 2022 ( The aim was to provide new solutions to traditionally intractable problems and to foster closer collaboration between the exoplanet and machine learning communities. Often interdisciplinary approaches are thwarted by jargon and a lack of familiarity. Data challenges are an excellent way to break down existing barriers and establish new links and collaborations. In this talk, I will give an overview of the challenges of running such interdisciplinary projects and what we have learned so far.

Jorge Sanz Forcada (Centro de Astrobiología (CSIC-INTA)): What can XMM-Newton do for the research on exoplanets? [pdf] [video]

The research on exoplanets is currently on a phase that is mainly focused on the study of the atmospheres of exoplanets in a close orbit to their parent stars. In this context the research of high energy emission of the stars if of great importance to interpret the atmospheric features, and planet evolution. Along this talk I will give an overview of different aspects in which the X-rays data are useful to study exoplanets.

Jorge Lillo-Box (Centro de Astrobiología (CSIC-INTA)): Synergies between ESA missions and the Remote Worlds Lab at the Center for Astrobiology [pdf] [video]

In this talk I will summarise the different ongoing exoplanet projects currently being developed by my group (the “Remote Worlds Lab”) at the Center for Astrobiology. From the search and study of habitable worlds around K-dwarfs with "the KOBE experiment", the unprecedented search for co-orbital worlds with "the TROY project” (see talk by Olga Balsalobre-Ruza), the photometric detection of non-transiting planets around giant stars with "the PiGs project", and the study of Earth-like life tolerability of extrasolar planets with "the Maisha enterprise". In the talk I will briefly summarise the objectives of these projects and their relevance to current and future ESA missions, as well as their link to the Voyage 2050 roadmap.

José Caballero (Centro de Astrobiología (CSIC-INTA)): Exoplanets from Madrid with CARMENES [pdf] [video]

CARMENES stands for Calar Alto high-Resolution search for M dwarfs with Exoearths with Near-Infrared and optical Echelle Spectrographs, and has become famous in the last years for their discoveries: from the terrestrial pland with the greatest Earth-similarity index, through the He I lambda 10830 AA line in exoplanet atmospheres, to the mass determination of rocky transiting planets at less thatn 10 pc discovered from space. CAB and UCM in Madrid are part of the homonymous CARMENES Consortium that designed and built the instrument, and that carries out guaranteed and legacy observations. As the CARMENES Instrument Astronomer, I will summarise the main facts of CARMENES (Consortium, instrument and project) and the most relevant discoveires, with emphasis on the tasks carried out in Madrid.

David Montes (Universidad Complutense de Madrid): Science for and with CARMENES from Madrid [pdf] [video]

We summarise here the different CARMENES science preparation and science exploration activities in which the Madrid CARMENES institutions (UCM and CAB) have been involved during the last years in preparation and characterisation of the CARMENES sample and sincde the start of the operation in 2016 in the exploitation of the VIS and NIR CARMENES spectra. The science preparation have included the compilation from public archives and new observations of astrometry, multi-band photometry, low and high-resolution spectroscopy in order to derive spectral types, stellar parameters, spectral energy distributions, chromospheric activity, rotational periods, kinematics, multiplicty, ages, etc... All these are part of the most comprehensive database of M dwarfs ever built, CARMENCITA, the CARMENES Cool dwarf Information and daTa Archive. For the science exploitation we are analysing the CARMENES spectra to derive stellar parameters (Teff, logg, [Fe/H]) of the CARMENES OBAFGKM spectral library using the equivalent width method with StePar and of the M dwarfs GTO sample by using spectral synthesis with SteParSyn. In addition, the time series of spectra of the M dwafts observed with CARMENES for search exoplanet are analysed with the special subtraction technique to study in detail the time evolution of the chromospheric activity using different VIS and NIR indicators.

Johannes Sahlmann (RHEA Group for ESA, ESAC): The Gaia DR3 exoplanet opportunity [pdf] [video]

The third data release of ESA's Gaia mission (GDR3) contains catalogues of binary systems inferred from photometric, spectroscopic, and astrometric timeseries. Gaia's survey is sensitive to substellar companions and consequently GDR3 includes the first Gaia exoplanet discoveries. Concentrating on the astrometric solutions, we will outline exoplanet results that can be expected from GDR3 and discuss promising science opportunities on the basis of this rich and unprecedented catalogue.

Pablo Marcos-Arenal (HE Space for ESA, ESAC): ExoPhot: A project for measuring the exoplanetary photosynthetic activity [pdf] [video]

Photosynthesis could be present in any exoplanetary system fulfilling the only three ingredients for this metabolic route: a light source, water, and carbon dioxide. To deepen into this idea, the ExoPhot project aims to study the relation between photosynthetic systems and exoplanet conditions around different types of stars by focusing on two aspects: 1. Assessing the photosynthetic fitness of a variety of photopigments (either real or theoretical) as a function of stellar spectral type, star-exoplanet separation, and planet atmosphere composition, and 2. delineating a range of stellar, exoplanet, and atmospheric parameters for which photosynthetic activity might be feasible. In order to address these goals, we make use of a new metric, the absorption rate, for the evaluation of the exoplanet photosynthetic activity that, based on state-of-the-art planet atmosphere and stellar photosphere models, quantifies the overlap between those spectra with the absorption spectra of photosynthetic pigments, both terrestrial and theoretical. This metric allows to evaluate the likeliness of detecting biomarkers from the living organisms producing photosynthesis in star/exoplanet/atmosphere system. The photosynthetic systems used here are either naturally biosynthesized, such as chlorophyll a, responsible for the absorption of light by cyanobacteria, algae, and plants, or theoretical primitive pigments.

Hugo M. Tabernero Guzmán (Centro de Astrobiología (CSIC-INTA)): Transmission spectroscopy with HORuS@GTC [pdf] [video]

The High Optical Resolution Spectrograph (HORuS) is a new moderate-resolution (R=25,000) echelle spectrograph mounted on the 10.4-m Gran Telescopio Canarias (GTC). During this talk, I will report on the first science results of HORuS in the field of exoplanet atmospheres. In particular, I will talk about the capabilities of HORuS for planetary transmission spectroscopy applied to the following science cases: the super-Earth 55 Cnc e and the hot Jupiter KELT-7b.

Eva Herrero-Cisneros (Centro de Astrobiología (CSIC-INTA)): Methodology for extracting exoplanetary atmospheres using high-resolution transmission spectroscopy [pdf] [video]

We will summarize the basics for obtaining the spectra of exoplanets observed during the primary transtis around their bright parent stars. Examples will be provided using ESPRESSO.

María Rosa Zapatero Osorio (Centro de Astrobiología (CSIC-INTA)): Lithium in exoplanets

We will present the first detections of Lithium absorption in the atmospheres of ultra-hot Jupiter-like exoplanets using high spectral resolution data and the physical interpretation of the observations.

Eva Villaver (Centro de Astrobiología (CSIC-INTA)): Planets around evolved stars [pdf] [video]

As a star evolves off the Main Sequence (MS), it endures major structural changes that are capable of determining the fate of the planets orbiting white dwarfs and red giant stars. On the other hand, the presence of planets on the white dwarf phase can provide insight into the vicissitudes of key processes of the previous evolution. I will show how the physics involved in the several competing processes (stellar mass-loss, gravitational and frictional drag, tidal forces, planet accretion and evaporation, common envelope evolution and dynamical unstability) determine the fate of planets around evolved stars.

Olga Balsalobre Ruza (Centro de Astrobiología (CSIC-INTA)): In the search for exotrojan planets [pdf] [video]

Planets sharing the same orbital path (aka co-orbitals or trojans) as well as exomoons are the missing pieces of the exoplanetary exploration. Both are key to build a complete picture of the formation and evolution of the planetary systems. In the particular case of trojans, they are mainly located in the Lagrangian points L4 and L5 of a planet orbit. These regions can be theoretically populated either by the accumulation of protoplanets in the early stages, or by a later gravitational capture. In the Solar System, Jupiter is accompanied by more than 1 million trojan bodies. Nonetheless, the stability of the system has already been demonstrated to be long-term possible even for a pair of co-orbiting planets of similar masses, therefore being easier to detect. Besides, both moons and trojans can be new a habitable niche to explore. For instance, a giant planet within the habitable zone can have a rocky companion where water could be retained. Finding them is one of the main challenges in the exoplanet field and ESA missions will be key to accomplish it. In this talk, we focus on the opportunity of finding these exotrojans worlds by means of the present and upcoming ESA missions, such as Cheops, JWST, Plato, Ariel, or LIFE.

Ignacio Mendigutía (Centro de Astrobiología (CSIC-INTA)): Looking for forming exoplanets in protoplanetary disks [pdf] [video]

The thousands formed exoplanets detected around evolved stars sharply contrast with the single confirmation of forming planets in the protoplanetary disk surrounding one young stellar object. In this talk I will review the observational difficulties associated to such an important task, summarizing our efforts at Centro de Astrobiología to detect exoplanets in the process of formation. In particular, I will present our results based on high-resolution imaging with SPHERE/VLT and spectro-astrometry with ISIS/WHT and MEGARA/GTC. Last but not least, I will show our preliminary result indirectly relating the metal content at the surface of young stars with the potential presence of giant planets in their disks.

Benjamín Montesinos (Centro de Astrobiología (CSIC-INTA)): Circumstellar material around main-sequence stars: looking for exocomets [pdf] [video]

Exoplanets are now routinely detected, but we have little information about minor bodies, which are also important to understand the formation and architecture of planetary systems. In contrast with the more than 5000 exoplanets we find now in catalogues, less than 30 main-sequence stars -most of them of A-type- have been reported to show some kind of exocometary activity, way behind that shown by the paradigmatic beta Pictoris. In this talk I will try put in context the field of the detection of exocomets into the broader picture of the study of the circumstellar environment, describe the efforts we made in the last few years to contribute to this line of research, and outline the problems of ensuring an unambiguous exocometary detection.

Charlotte Fairman (ESTEC / University of Bristol): The impact of stellar metallicity on the atmosphere loss/habitability of exoplanets through the XUV evolution of low mass stars [pdf] [video]

To understand planetary habitability, one important consideration is whether a planet can retain its atmosphere over evolutionary timescales. Of the possible atmospheric escape mechanisms, we focus on planetary atmosphere evaporation from X-ray and extreme UV (XUV) irradiation, which is driven by the magnetic activity and rotational evolution of the host star. Previous studies have investigated the role of stellar mass and initial stellar rotation period on atmospheric photoevaporation. However, the effect of stellar metallicity, through its impact on stellar structure, has not yet been explored. In this talk, I will discuss how the stellar metallicity affects the rotation and XUV activity evolution of host stars and, therefore, the atmospheric evolution of exoplanets. In general, planets orbiting more metal-rich host stars lose their atmospheres more rapidly. I will also discuss the conditions in which atmospheric loss is most sensitive to the host star metallicity.

Maximilian N. Günther (ESTEC): TOI-270 as a unique testbed for exoplanet formation & evolution [video]

The nearby TOI-270 system provides an unparalleled opportunity to observationally probe hypotheses for exoplanet formation and evolution. The system hosts one super-Earth and two sub-Neptunes near mean-motion resonances and transiting a bright (K-mag 8.25) M3V dwarf. Strangely, M-dwarf systems harbouring only super-Earths or only sub-Neptunes are ubiquitous. However, for still unknown reasons, systems with multiple planets spanning the radius valley are rare - and we know merely a handful of systems bright enough for precise mass measurements and atmospheric studies. To this end, TOI-270's planets are exceptionally favourable for detailed transit timing variation (TTV) and transmission spectroscopy observations. First, with the planets orbiting near low-order resonances (5:3 and 2:1), our extensive observing campaign with eight different observatories since 2018 yields clear TTV signals for planets c and d, with amplitudes of around 10 min and a super-period of circa 3 yr. Using dynamical models, we can thus significantly constrain their radii, mass ratios, and eccentricities. This adds to complementary radial velocity (RV) mass measurements from HARPS and ESPRESSO. Second, via HST and JWST transmission spectroscopy we can characterise and compare the atmospheres of two sub-Neptunes formed from the same protoplanetary nebula and test hypotheses like photoevaporation, core-powered mass-loss, and gas-poor formation. As one of the best-constrained small planet systems, TOI-270 can thus serve as a unique observational testbed for formation and evolution theories.


WebEx Etiquette

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