Alexis Brandeker

Alexis Brandeker


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Works at Department of Astronomy
Telephone 08-553 785 39
Visiting address Roslagstullsbacken 21, C 6 & D 6
Room D6:3028
Postal address Institutionen för astronomi 106 91 Stockholm


A selection from Stockholm University publication database
  • 2017. Gianni Cataldi (et al.). Astrobiology 17 (8), 721-746

    With the number of confirmed rocky exoplanets increasing steadily, their characterization and the search for exoplanetary biospheres are becoming increasingly urgent issues in astrobiology. To date, most efforts have concentrated on the study of exoplanetary atmospheres. Instead, we aim to investigate the possibility of characterizing an exoplanet (in terms of habitability, geology, presence of life, etc.) by studying material ejected from the surface during an impact event. For a number of impact scenarios, we estimate the escaping mass and assess its subsequent collisional evolution in a circumstellar orbit, assuming a Sun-like host star. We calculate the fractional luminosity of the dust as a function of time after the impact event and study its detectability with current and future instrumentation. We consider the possibility to constrain the dust composition, giving information on the geology or the presence of a biosphere. As examples, we investigate whether calcite, silica, or ejected microorganisms could be detected. For a 20km diameter impactor, we find that the dust mass escaping the exoplanet is roughly comparable to the zodiacal dust, depending on the exoplanet's size. The collisional evolution is best modeled by considering two independent dust populations, a spalled population consisting of nonmelted ejecta evolving on timescales of millions of years, and dust recondensed from melt or vapor evolving on much shorter timescales. While the presence of dust can potentially be inferred with current telescopes, studying its composition requires advanced instrumentation not yet available. The direct detection of biological matter turns out to be extremely challenging. Despite considerable difficulties (small dust masses, noise such as exozodiacal dust, etc.), studying dusty material ejected from an exoplanetary surface might become an interesting complement to atmospheric studies in the future.

  • 2016. Alexis Brandeker (et al.). Astronomy and Astrophysics 591

    The young star beta Pictoris is well known for its dusty debris disk produced through collisional grinding of planetesimals, kilometre-sized bodies in orbit around the star. In addition to dust, small amounts of gas are also known to orbit the star; this gas is likely the result of vaporisation of violently colliding dust grains. The disk is seen edge on and from previous absorption spectroscopy we know that the gas is very rich in carbon relative to other elements. The oxygen content has been more difficult to assess, however, with early estimates finding very little oxygen in the gas at a C/O ratio that is 20x higher than the cosmic value. A C/O ratio that high is difficult to explain and would have far-reaching consequences for planet formation. Here we report on observations by the far-infrared space telescope Herschel, using PACS, of emission lines from ionised carbon and neutral oxygen. The detected emission from C+ is consistent with that previously reported observed by the HIFI instrument on Herschel, while the emission from O is hard to explain without assuming a higher density region in the disk, perhaps in the shape of a clump or a dense torus required to sufficiently excite the O atoms. A possible scenario is that the C/O gas is produced by the same process responsible for the CO clump recently observed by the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array in the disk and that the redistribution of the gas takes longer than previously assumed. A more detailed estimate of the C/O ratio and the mass of O will have to await better constraints on the C/O gas spatial distribution.

  • 2014. H. Rauer (et al.). Experimental astronomy (Print) 38 (1-2), 249-330

    PLATO 2.0 has recently been selected for ESA's M3 launch opportunity (2022/24). Providing accurate key planet parameters (radius, mass, density and age) in statistical numbers, it addresses fundamental questions such as: How do planetary systems form and evolve? Are there other systems with planets like ours, including potentially habitable planets? The PLATO 2.0 instrument consists of 34 small aperture telescopes (32 with 25 s readout cadence and 2 with 2.5 s cadence) providing a wide field-of-view (2232 deg(2)) and a large photometric magnitude range (4-16 mag). It focuses on bright (4-11 mag) stars in wide fields to detect and characterize planets down to Earth-size by photometric transits, whose masses can then be determined by ground-based radial-velocity follow-up measurements. Asteroseismology will be performed for these bright stars to obtain highly accurate stellar parameters, including masses and ages. The combination of bright targets and asteroseismology results in high accuracy for the bulk planet parameters: 2 %, 4-10 % and 10 % for planet radii, masses and ages, respectively. The planned baseline observing strategy includes two long pointings (2-3 years) to detect and bulk characterize planets reaching into the habitable zone (HZ) of solar-like stars and an additional step-and-stare phase to cover in total about 50 % of the sky. PLATO 2.0 will observe up to 1,000,000 stars and detect and characterize hundreds of small planets, and thousands of planets in the Neptune to gas giant regime out to the HZ. It will therefore provide the first large-scale catalogue of bulk characterized planets with accurate radii, masses, mean densities and ages. This catalogue will include terrestrial planets at intermediate orbital distances, where surface temperatures are moderate. Coverage of this parameter range with statistical numbers of bulk characterized planets is unique to PLATO 2.0. The PLATO 2.0 catalogue allows us to e. g.: - complete our knowledge of planet diversity for low-mass objects, - correlate the planet mean density-orbital distance distribution with predictions from planet formation theories,- constrain the influence of planet migration and scattering on the architecture of multiple systems, and - specify how planet and system parameters change with host star characteristics, such as type, metallicity and age. The catalogue will allow us to study planets and planetary systems at different evolutionary phases. It will further provide a census for small, low-mass planets. This will serve to identify objects which retained their primordial hydrogen atmosphere and in general the typical characteristics of planets in such a low-mass, low-density range. Planets detected by PLATO 2.0 will orbit bright stars and many of them will be targets for future atmosphere spectroscopy exploring their atmospheres. Furthermore, the mission has the potential to detect exomoons, planetary rings, binary and Trojan planets. The planetary science possible with PLATO 2.0 is complemented by its impact on stellar and galactic science via asteroseismology as well as light curves of all kinds of variable stars, together with observations of stellar clusters of different ages. This will allow us to improve stellar models and study stellar activity. A large number of well-known ages from red giant stars will probe the structure and evolution of our Galaxy. Asteroseismic ages of bright stars for different phases of stellar evolution allow calibrating stellar age-rotation relationships. Together with the results of ESA's Gaia mission, the results of PLATO 2.0 will provide a huge legacy to planetary, stellar and galactic science.

Show all publications by Alexis Brandeker at Stockholm University

Last updated: April 17, 2018

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