In publica commoda

Press release: In search of Earth-like planets

Nr. 59/2017 - 31.03.2017

DFG funds new Astrophysics research group at Göttingen University

(pug) The German Research Foundation (DFG) is funding a new research group at Göttingen University that is seeking out Earth-like planets. Under the motto “Blue earths near red stars“, the scientists’ objective is to search for planets outside of our solar system. The Institute for Astrophysics at Göttingen University is responsible for project coordination; other participating institutions include the Universities of Hamburg and Heidelberg, the Tautenburg State Observatory in Thuringia and the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg. The amount of funding applied for amounts to nearly two million euros for an initial period of three years.

"We are very delighted that our project lets us drive our search for planets orbiting our neighbouring stars,“ declares the spokesperson of the research group, Professor Ansgar Reiners of Göttingen University. "If we want to try to understand how planetary systems evolve and life in the universe develops, the study of these stars is of paramount interest. The work of recent years has shown that these stars are home to numerous planets.“

As part of the German-Spanish "CARMENES“ project, the scientists have built two spectrographs that run on a 3.5 m telescope in operation at the Calar Alto Observatory in Andalusia. In the coming years, the researchers will have more than 600 observation nights available to them. "These new observational possibilities open up a new window into the world of these planetary systems,“ says Reiners. “For scientific analysis we require specialised methods and a better understanding of the stars themselves.“ Until now, light in the optical spectrum was almost exclusively used for this type of research. By contrast, the new research group now uses long-wave infrared light as well.

Professor Ansgar Reiners
Georg-August-Universität Göttingen
Faculty of Physics – Institute for Astrophysics
Friedrich-Hund-Platz 1, 37077 Göttingen, Germany
Phone +49 551 39-13825