Site Map
Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter YouTube channel
Centro de Astrofísica da Universidade do Porto

Habitable Planets Eclipsing Brown Dwarfs: Strategies for Detection and Characterization

A. R. Belu, F. Selsis, S. N. Raymond, E. Pallé, R. A. Street, D. K. Sahu, K von Braun, E. Bolmont, P. Figueira, G. C. Anupama, I. Ribas

Given the very close proximity of their habitable zones, brown dwarfs represent high-value targets in the search for nearby transiting habitable planets that may be suitable for follow-up occultation spectroscopy. In this paper we develop search strategies to find habitable planets transiting brown dwarfs depending on their maximum habitable orbital period (PHZ out). Habitable planets with PHZ out shorter than the useful duration of a night (e.g. 8-10 hrs) can be screened with 100% completeness from a single location and in a single night (near-IR). More luminous brown dwarfs require continuous monitoring for longer duration, e.g. from space or from a longitude-distributed network (one test scheduling achieved - 3 telescopes, 13.5 contiguous hours). Using a simulated survey of the 21 closest known brown dwarfs (within 7 pc) we find that the probability of detecting at least one transiting habitable planet is between 4.5+5.6/-1.4 and 56+31/-13 %, depending on our assumptions. We calculate that brown dwarfs within 5-10 pc are characterizable for potential biosignatures with a 6.5 m space telescope using ~1% of a 5-year mission’s lifetime spread over a contiguous segment only 1/5th to 1/10th of this duration.

astrobiology — brown dwarfs — eclipses — infrared: planetary systems — instrumentation: spectrographs — solar neighborhood

The Astrophysical Journal
Volume 768, Page 125_1
May 2013

>> PDF>> ADS>> DOI

Institute of Astrophysics and Space Sciences

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.

Proceed on CAUP's website|Go to IA website