Protostars and Planets VI, Heidelberg, July 15-20, 2013

Poster 2K066

SPECULOOS: Search for habitable Planets EClipsing ULtra-cOOl Stars

Gillon, Michaël (University of Liège)
Jehin, Emmanuël (University of Liège)
Delrez, Laetitia (University of Liège)
Magain, Pierre (University of Liège)
Opitom, Cyrielle (University of Liège)
Sohy, Sandrine (University of Liège)

The 1000 nearest ultra-cool stars (spectral type M6 and latter) represent a unique opportunity for the search for life outside our solar system. Due to their small luminosity, their habitable zone is 30-100 times closer than for the Sun, the corresponding orbital periods ranging from one to a few days. Thanks to this proximity, the transits of a habitable planet are much more probable and frequent than for an Earth-Sun analog, while their tiny size (about 1 Jupiter radius) leads to transits deep enough for a ground-based detection, even for sub-Earth size planets. Furthermore, a habitable planet transiting one of these nearby ultra-cool stars would be amenable for a thorough atmospheric characterization, including the detection of possible biosignatures, notably with the near-to-come JWST. Motivated by these reasons, we have set up the concept of a ground-based survey optimized for detecting planets of Earth-size and below transiting the nearest Southern ultra-cool stars. We present here this concept and its status.

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