Press release: Carmenes: 59 new planets discovered in four years
No. 30 - 22.02.2023
International research team publishes 20,000 observations from the Calar Alto telescope
The international Carmenes project has led to the discovery of 59 exoplanets in four years, a dozen of which could potentially support life. The scientists have published the data from around 20,000 observations they made between 2016 and 2020 for a sample of 362 nearby stars that are relatively “cool”. The project, which includes the University of Göttingen, uses an instrument from the Calar Alto Observatory with the aim of finding Earth-like exoplanets (with solid surfaces and more moderate temperatures) that may harbour liquid water on their surfaces. The study was published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.
The Carmenes instrument is both an optical and near-infrared spectrograph, meaning that it measures both visible and infrared light from objects. It was installed at the Calar Alto Observatory in southern Spain in 2015 to find Earth-like exoplanets near red dwarf stars. "With this new method, Carmenes has re-analysed 17 known planets and discovered and confirmed 59 new planets near our solar system since it started working," explains first author Professor Ignasi Ribas from the Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia (IEEC). In fact, the project has doubled the number of exoplanets identified near these cooler stars. In the process, almost half of all the stars in the solar neighbourhood have been observed. The remaining fraction can only be observed from the southern hemisphere. In addition, the spectra obtained provide extremely valuable information about the atmospheres of the stars and their planets.
The Institute for Astrophysics and Geophysics at the University of Göttingen is responsible for processing the data and calibrating the instrument. To evaluate the scientific data, the German Research Foundation (DFG) has provided funding for the research group "Blue Planets around Red Stars", which is coordinated in Göttingen. "The scientific data from the Carmenes project provides insight into a world of planets that has remained hidden from us until now," says Professor Ansgar Reiners, second author of the study and spokesperson of the DFG research group. "We are also particularly interested in the stars where the planets are located. In addition to these new discoveries of planets, we have learned a great deal about the physics of the stars: their magnetic properties and the effects on the potential habitability of planets are particularly interesting."
The current publication, which involved around 100 scientists from more than 30 research centres, is the 100th article from this project. The Carmenes project has continued as "Carmenes Legacy-Plus" since 2021. Observations from this stage of the project will continue at least until the end of 2023. Further information can be found at https://carmenes.caha.es/.
Original publication: Ignasi Ribas et al. “The CARMENES search for exoplanets around M dwarfs. Guaranteed time observations data release 1 (2016-2020)”. Astronomy & Astrophysics 2023. Doi: 10.1051/0004-6361/202244879.
Professor Ansgar Reiners
University of Göttingen
Institute for Astrophysics and Geophysics
Friedrich-Hund-Platz 1, 37077 Göttingen, Germany
Tel: +49 (0)551 39-28530