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Generation of an optimal target list for the exoplanet characterisation observatory (EChO)

Varley, R., Waldmann, I., Pascale, Enzo, Tessenyi, M., Hollis, M., Morales, J. C., Tinetti, G., Swinyard, Bruce, Deroo, P., Ollivier, M. and Micela, G. 2015. Generation of an optimal target list for the exoplanet characterisation observatory (EChO). Experimental Astronomy 40 (2) , pp. 621-638. 10.1007/s10686-014-9436-8

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The Exoplanet Characterisation Observatory (EChO) has been studied as a space mission concept by the European Space Agency in the context of the M3 selection process. Through direct measurement of the atmospheric chemical composition of hundreds of exoplanets, EChO would address fundamental questions such as: What are exoplanets made of? How do planets form and evolve? What is the origin of exoplanet diversity? More specifically, EChO is a dedicated survey mission for transit and eclipse spectroscopy capable of observing a large, diverse and well-defined planetary sample within its four to six year mission lifetime. In this paper we use the end-to-end instrument simulator EChOSim to model the currently discovered targets, to gauge which targets are observable and assess the EChO performances obtainable for each observing tier and time. We show that EChO would be capable of observing over 170 relativity diverse planets if it were launched today, and the wealth of optimal targets for EChO expected to be discovered in the next 10 years by space and ground-based facilities is simply overwhelming. In addition, we build on previous molecular detectability studies to show what molecules and abundances will be detectable by EChO for a selection of real targets with various molecular compositions and abundances. EChO’s unique contribution to exoplanetary science will be in identifying the main constituents of hundreds of exoplanets in various mass/temperature regimes, meaning that we will be looking no longer at individual cases but at populations. Such a universal view is critical if we truly want to understand the processes of planet formation and evolution in various environments. In this paper we present a selection of key results. The full results are available in Online Resource 1.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Physics and Astronomy
Subjects: Q Science > QB Astronomy
Additional Information: First online: 03 February 2015
Publisher: Springer
ISSN: 0922-6435
Last Modified: 15 Mar 2019 13:56

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