K2 still producing nice results

K2, the second life of the Kepler satellite is stil observing and producing nice results. I myself, am part of the KESPRINT consortium (an international collaboration joined from the former KEST and ESPRINT consortium). Analysing the publically available K2 data, we look for promising planet candidates and confirm their planetary nature and determine their masses by radial velocity follow up observations.

Looking at ADS today, I saw we were quite productive. As this list only shows K2 planets confirmed by our consortium you can imagen the number of characzterised planets detected by the K2 mission to be much higher.

Here is a list of some papers related to the KEST and KESPRINT Consortium:

  • Gandolfi et al. 2017: The transiting multi-planet system HD3167: a 5.7 MEarth Super-Earth and a 8.3 MEarth mini-Neptune
  • Guenther et al. 2017: K2-106, a system containing a metal rich planet and a planet of lower density
  • Nespral et al. 2017: Mass determination of K2-19b and K2-19c from radial velocities and transit timing variations
  • Fridlund et al. 2017: EPIC 210894022b – A short period super-Earth transiting a metal poor, evolved old star
  • Nowak et al. 2017: EPIC 219388192b—An Inhabitant of the Brown Dwarf Desert in the Ruprecht 147 Open Cluster
  • Eigmüller et al. 2017: K2-60b and K2-107b. A Sub-Jovian and a Jovian Planet from the K2 Mission
  • Barragán et al. 2017: EPIC 218916923 b: a low-mass warm Jupiter on a 29-day orbit transiting an active K0 V star
  • Smith et al. 2017: K2-99: a subgiant hosting a transiting warm Jupiter in an eccentric orbit and a long-period companion
  • Barragán et al. 2016: EPIC 211391664b: A 32 M Neptune-size Planet in a 10 Day Orbit Transiting an F8 Star
  • Grizwa et al. 2016: K2-31b, a Grazing Transiting Hot Jupiter on a 1.26-day Orbit around a Bright G7V Star
  • Johnson et al. 2016: Two Hot Jupiters from K2 Campaign 4


Terraforming of Exoplanets

In context of an interview by highschool students I had to answer some questions in regards to terraforming of exoplanets. This interview included topics such as detection of earth like planets, possible space travel scenarios to those planets and ethical implications of inhabiting new worlds.

The question went a bit further than what I am working on, but nevertheless it was fun thinking about all this stuff. In my believe we have a real chance to find a planet similar to earth and to be able to detect first hints for extrasolar live (if it exists) in exoplanets atmospheres in the next 20-50 years. Everything beyond this point is pure speculation.

With projects such as StarShot we might be able in a next step (another 50 years maybe?) to send nanoprobes to those places. But already sending such nanoprobes is at the moment out of reach and needs lots of new technology.  This makes it hard to go any further in speculation.





I am back

Half a year has past. My son is now one year old and I am back at work. Unfortunately we have not  yet a place for him in the kindergarten. Or to be more precise, the kindergarten is not yet finished where we have a place for him. We hope that the kindergarten will be ready in mid october.

In the coming days I will try to get an overview on what needs to be done, but it seems there is a lot.

NGTS has had it first light curing my absence, at least with the first of twelve telescopes. In the coming months we will try to set up the other eleven systems. In the meantime we analyse the first data gathered to see what can be optimized and to test the data anaylsis pipeline.

PLATO is now in its B1 phase. The kick off meeting was in July, and now everybody is working hard to prepare hardware and documents for the PDCR.



My son is now six month old. I’m now and paternity leave until September. Not sure how this will influence my writing on this blog. We will see. For now I will go on pause.


PLATO selected

I’m a bit late,but it needs to be posted as it is to important.

PLATO got selected!!!

Now exoplanet community looks into a bright future. This year NGTS will have first light detecting new hot Neptunes and super-Earth planets. This will be followed by CHEOPS (ESA), a characterizing mission and TESS (NASA) which will detect hot/warm super-earth planets around nearby stars. And 2024 PLATO will go for an earth around another sun. And PLATO will allow to determine mass, radius and ages of planets with unprecedented precision.

This will not only give us the chance to have a second earth detected in my lifetime, but will give us a much more complete understanding on planetary systems, their formation and evolution. This might also change our view on the solar system.


ESA L2 / L3 selection

This year ESA will select the themes for the L2 and L3 missions. And although the final and official decision is still pending, we heard already a few weeks ago about the status selection. The best bet is on High energy physics and gravitational physics.

This means for the pending M3 selection the stake on exoplanets gets higher. If no exoplanet mission is selected in M3, ESA will miss a great chance to get a leading role in this topic of high public interest and let the US do the space based exploration of extrasolar worlds. The small ESA mission Cheops will not be able compensate for this.

In a more global view, i have to say the chances to find biosignatures like ozon on rocky extrasolar worlds during my lifetime will drop dramatically if PLATO will not be selected. As Echo will only be able to observe larger gasous planets and no other large mission to directly observe small extrasolar worls is planned at the moment, PLATO is the only chance to find small planets which can then be followed up with JWST and the future ELT instruments.



PLATO 2.0 Science workshop

Today the PLATO 2.0 science workshop at ESTEC starts. It will last until Wednesday. Today the focus is on overview about the mission, and the payload (we have the first prototype of the optical unit here). Later we will hear about Ground based follow up and other missions and projects (CoRoT, CHEOPS, TESS, Kepler, Gaia) and spectroscopic follow up.

(To be updated…)


ARKYD reached 1M$ goal and is now reaching for exoplanets

ARKYD, the first crowed funded space telescope (to be build) has reached its goal of collecting 1M$. This means it will be built. They now extended their goal to 2M$ if they reach this goal they will work on the stabiliy of the satellite so they can use this 20cm aperture telescope for exoplanet science. They want to build on the cubesat idea by sara seager.

So lets see, it 10 days left and still a long way to go to the 2M$ but maybe ….




Hello world!

Today I started to work on this small blog. It is not yet done in any way, so far i only wrote this line and created the image. We will see how long it takes till I’m done with the design and basic structure.

Hopefully till the end of this year a first version with some content will exist. For now I will play a bit with wordpress and see how it works.