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Searching of habitable extra-solar planets

Detecting life outside the Solar System is a many-stepped scientific challenge. Life signs will be difficult to detect by telescopes, and only the most favorable planets should be targeted for detecting a place where life is proliferating enough at their surface to substantially alter their emitting electromagnetic spectrum. The first goal is to identify Earth-like planets orbiting around very nearby stars and considered as potentially habitable. Such planets must be within the proper range of orbital distances allowing surface temperatures where liquid water can be stable on their surface. A considerable interest has been focused on the  search for planets in habitable zone of M-dwarfs (stars of lower mass than the Sun, and of lower temperature) which have the great advantage to be much easier to detect than those around other types of stars and will be amenable to characterization of their atmosphere in the coming decade (unlike telluric planet atmospheres around solar-type stars, which will not be characterized before the arrival of new instruments in several decades)

We leads the exploitation of several world-leading programs using velocimetry and transits to detect planets around M-dwarfs. We already detected a few tens of planets including the first rocky planets in habitable zones with HARPS@ESO and we develop SPIRou@CFHT (near-infrared velocimeter) and ExTrA (ERC funding project to search for transit around M-dwarfs). During the next 4 years we will exploit SPIRou and ExTrA to detect numerous rocky planets in the habitable zones of M-dwarfs of the Solar neighbourhood.

Submitted on January 25, 2024

Updated on January 25, 2024