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Centro de Astrofísica da Universidade do Porto

Reflected Light from Giant Planets in Habitable Zones: Tapping into the Power of the Cross-Correlation Function

J. H. C. Martins, N. C. Santos, P. Figueira, C. Melo

The direct detection of reflected light from exoplanets is an excellent probe for the characterization of their atmospheres. The greatest challenge for this task is the low planet-to-star flux ratio, which even in the most favourable case is of the order of 10-4 in the optical. This ratio decreases even more for planets in their host's habitable zone, typically lower than 10-7. To reach the signal-to-noise level required for such detections, we propose to unleash the power of the Cross Correlation Function in combination with the collecting power of next generation observing facilities. The technique we propose has already yielded positive results by detecting the reflected spectral signature of 51 Pegasi b (see Martins et al. 2015). In this work, we attempted to infer the number of hours required for the detection of several planets in their host's habitable zone using the aforementioned technique from theoretical EELT observations. Our results show that for 5 of the selected planets it should be possible to directly recover their reflected spectral signature.

Planetary systems, Habitability zone, High resolution spectroscopy

Volume 46
March 2016

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Institute of Astrophysics and Space Sciences (IA) is a new but long anticipated research infrastructure with a national dimension. It embodies a bold but feasible vision for the development of Astronomy, Astrophysics and Space Sciences in Portugal, taking full advantage and fully realizing the potential created by the national membership of the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Southern Observatory (ESO). IA resulted from the merging the two most prominent research units in the field in Portugal: the Centre for Astrophysics of the University of Porto (CAUP) and the Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics of the University of Lisbon (CAAUL). It currently hosts more than two-thirds of all active researchers working in Space Sciences in Portugal, and is responsible for an even greater fraction of the national productivity in international ISI journals in the area of Space Sciences. This is the scientific area with the highest relative impact factor (1.65 times above the international average) and the field with the highest average number of citations per article for Portugal.

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