Extrasolar Planets: January 2017

We report the detection of water absorption features in the dayside spectrum of the first-known hot Jupiter, 51 Peg b, confirming the star-planet system to be a double-lined spectroscopic binary.

A habitable exoplanet is a world that can maintain stable liquid water on its surface. Techniques and approaches to characterizing such worlds are essential, as performing a census of Earth-like planets that may or may not have life will inform our understanding of how frequently life originates and is sustained on worlds other than our own.

ESO has signed an agreement with the Breakthrough Initiatives to adapt the Very Large Telescope instrumentation in Chile to conduct a search for planets in the nearby star system Alpha Centauri.

The atmospheres of exoplanets reveal all their properties beyond mass, radius, and orbit. Based on bulk densities, we know that exoplanets larger than 1.5 Earth radii must have gaseous envelopes, hence atmospheres.

A critical component of exoplanetary studies is an exhaustive characterization of the host star, from which the planetary properties are frequently derived. Of particular value are the radius, temperature, and luminosity, which are key stellar parameters for studies of transit and habitability science.