TRAPPIST-UCDTS: A prototype search for habitable planets transiting ultra-cool stars
1 Institut d'Astrophysique et de Géophysique, Université de Liège, Allée du 6 août 17, Sart Tilman, Liège 1, Belgium
2 Observatoire de Genève, Université de Genève, 51 Chemin des Maillettes, 1290 Sauverny, Switzerland
a e-mail: email@example.com
The ∼1000 nearest ultra-cool stars (spectral type M6 and latter) represent a unique opportunity for the search for life outside solar system. Due to their small luminosity, their habitable zone is 30–100 times closer than for the Sun, the corresponding orbital periods ranging from one to a few days. Thanks to this proximity, the transits of a habitable planet are much more probable and frequent than for an Earth-Sun analog, while their tiny size (∼1 Jupiter radius) leads to transits deep enough for a ground-based detection, even for sub-Earth size planets. Furthermore, a habitable planet transiting one of these nearby ultra-cool star would be amenable for a thorough atmospheric characterization, including the detection of possible biosignatures, notably with the near-to-come JWST. Motivated by these reasons, we have set up the concept of a ground-based survey optimized for detecting planets of Earth-size and below transiting the nearest Southern ultra-cool stars. To assess thoroughly the actual potential of this future survey, we are currently conducting a prototype mini-survey using the TRAPPIST robotic 60cm telescope located at La Silla ESO Observatory (Chile). We summarize here the preliminary results of this mini-survey that fully validate our concept.
© Owned by the authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2013
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