Uncovering the exoplanetary zoo in our Galaxy

In force date
Call year
Pallé Bago
Financial institution
Amount granted to the IAC Consortium
67.475,00 €

The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) is a NASA mission that started scientific
operations in July 2018. Over two years it will cover the entire sky, searching for planetary
transits in stars with magnitudes brighter than 14. Data covering the first 3 weeks of the mission
were released in September 2018, and within days a super-earth around a naked-eye star
(Vmag=5) and a mini-Neptune around an M star, extremely amenable for further atmospheric
characterization have already been announced, with active participation of our research team
(Huang et al, 2018; Vanderspek et al. 2018). Our team has also lead the TESS discovery of the
second closest transiting planet to Earth and one of the mot amenable for atmospheric
characterization with the JWST, in a system containing also a planet in the habitable zone of the
star (Luque et al 2019). Over the next 2 years, 4 if the first mission extension is granted, TESS
will completely transform the landscape of the known planet population. Here we propose a
scientific project to exploit the IAC-TESS database (EXO-WORLDS): a compilation of over 17
million light curves (to become 50 million) constructed from TESS data in collaboration with
Intelequia, a Canarian company focused on cloud computing. With roughly two orders of
magnitude more light curves than any previous space or ground-based mission, we are
planning to use machine-learning algorithms to uncover the real population of relatively strange
planetary objects of which we only know one or a few of it kind, such as planets around brown
or white dwarfs, evaporating planets, planets around massive stars or circumbinary planets.
While most of the exoplanet community is focusing its efforts only on short-period earth mass
planets (which we share and participate), this project is planning to unveil the true planet
formation rates for all types of stars, and the planetary system architectures in our galaxy.
Moreover we are fully quipped to conduct follow-up observations of the most interesting planet
discoveries, in order to confirm their planetary nature and physical properties (mass, radius,
densities and dynamical interactions), and undertake the characterization of the atmospheres of
those planets around the brightest stars.