The project calculates Ariel’s targets for the exoplanets


ExoClock counts down Ariel's exoplanet targets

Artist’s impression of Ariel on his way to Lagrange Point 2 (L2). Here, the spacecraft is shielded from the sun and has a clear view of the entire sky. Credit: ESA / STFC RAL Space / UCL / Europlanet-Science Office

Details of the orbits of 450 candidate exoplanet targets for the European Space Agency’s European Space Mission were presented this week at the Europlanet Science Conference (EPSC) 2022, and submitted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series. The study, coordinated by the ExoClock Project, was co-authored by 217 professional and amateur astronomers, as well as college and high school students.

“The spirit of ExoClock can be described in three key words: inclusive, interactive and integrated. It is open to all and accepts the contributions of amateur astronomers, students, schools and citizens,” said Anastasia Kokori, ExoClock Project Coordinator. “This is the third paper produced by the ExoClock team. The majority of the authors are amateur observers – around 160 – and this large number highlights the interest and value of the amateur community in contributing to outer space Research.”

Ariel will study more than 1,000 exoplanets to characterize their atmospheres. The ExoClock project, launched in September 2019, aims to support long-term observation of exoplanets through regular observations using small and medium-sized telescopes.

Participants provided measurements known as “light curves,” which show the decrease in the intensity of a planet “transiting,” or passing in front of its host star and blocking some of the light. When Ariel is launched in 2029, it will need to know the exact transit time of each exoplanet it observes, in order to maximize the mission’s efficiency and impact.

ExoClock counts down Ariel's exoplanet targets

A small telescope typical of those used by hobbyists participating in the ExoClock program. Credit: Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

“The new study shows that more than 40% of the temporary installations of proposed Ariel targets need updating. This highlights the important role that the ExoClock community can play in monitoring Ariel targets frequently,” Tsiaras said.

ExoClock participants schedule and perform observations, analyze data and submit their findings for review and feedback from science team members. This interactive process helps maintain consistency in outcomes, and enriches the experience of participants who learn through dialogue.

The results show that small and medium-sized telescopes can successfully spot visitors to the vast majority of Ariel candidate targets. They also show how the notes by Astronomy enthusiasts The use of their telescopes can contribute to real science and have a major impact on the mission. The project helps to integrate Ariel with others space missionsAnd the ground-based telescopesdata, the literature and the wider community, and make optimum use of all available resources.

ExoClock counts down Ariel's exoplanet targets

An example of scientific data produced by amateur astronomers. Credit: ExoClock

Kokori says that “Science is for everyone, and we are very happy with that with project Everyone can be part of a real space mission. Our observers come from over 35 countries and have different backgrounds. It is great to see so many people willing to learn and work together in a collaborative spirit. Our team continues to grow daily with participants from all over the world.”

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