Probing the architecture of multi-planetary systems


  • Call:

    IDPASC Portugal - PHD Programme 2017

  • Academic Year:

    2017 / 2018

  • Domain:


  • Supervisor:

    Susana Barros

  • Co-Supervisor:

    Olivier Demangeon

  • Institution:

    Universidade do Porto

  • Host Institution:


  • Abstract:

    The Kepler satellite has revealed that a large percentage of the known transiting exoplanets are in multi-planetary systems (?40%). Multi-planetary systems are great laboratories to test theories of formation and migration of planetary systems. Many interesting systems found by Kepler and others recently found by the K2 mission are still awaiting detailed modeling due to the extra-complexity that the gravitational interaction between the different planets of the system introduce. This project aims at the study of the architecture of multi-planetary systems using detailed state of the art n-body simulations coupled with a Bayesian modeling. The project is built on a photodynamic transit and radial velocity (RV) fitting tool developed by our group to study interesting known Kepler multi-planetary systems and/or new multi-planetary systems discovered by the K2 and TESS new surveys. A photodynamical analysis, accounting for the dynamical interactions between the planets of the system at the earliest stage of the data analysis, achieves a better precision and accuracy on the determination of the system parameters than usual methods. It is also more sensitive to the low masse planets. The goal of this project is to focus on the lowest mass planets (super-Earths and mini-Neptunes), for which it is not possible to determine masses with current RV instruments alone and will probe this fascinating population of planets. Our group has developed a pipeline to reduce K2 data and compute high precision light curves combined with a transit search algorithm to search for planetary transits. Hence we have a competitive advantage to discover knew interesting systems from K2 or even TESS data. We are also involved in a collaboration to obtain precise radial velocities with the HARPS spectrograph to confirm and characterize these candidates. The student will study the most promising know systems and is also expected to be involved in the search and characterization of these new multi-planetary systems.