The research group on exoplanets at INAF-OATo focuses its activities on the observational aspects of the astrophysics of extrasolar planetary systems. The main research lines of the group focus on the detection of exoplanets and their characterization in terms of internal structure and atmosphere, using a variety of techniques that cover a wide range of wavelengths (from visible to thermal infrared).
We study aspects of the “demographics” of planetary systems, through investigations of the statistical properties (planetary frequencies, distributions of orbital and physical parameters) of the population. We are also interested in the precise determination of atmospheric (temperature, gravity, chemical composition) and physical (mass, radius, age) parameters of the host stars, as their precise and accurate determination is a key element for the correct estimation of the planetary parameters and for the description of the variety of possible star-planet interactions.
The group is strongly involved in medium and long-term national and transnational projects at the frontier of exoplanet research, both from the ground (HARPS-N @ TNG, GIARPS @ TNG, ESPRESSO @ VLT, SHARK @ LBT) and in space (Gaia, TESS, CHEOPS, PLATO, ARIEL, SPICA). Members of our group
1) have held and hold scientific leadership roles in the long-term observational program Global Architecture of Planetary Systems (GAPS, and its current GAPS2 continuation) for the detection and characterization of exoplanets with the HARPS-N and GIANO spectrographs at the TNG and with the simultaneous observational mode GIARPS (GIANO + HARPS-N);
2) coordinated the European project FP7-SPACE ETAEARTH, for the characterization of terrestrial planetary systems with Kepler, HARPS-N and Gaia;
3) had the overall PI-ship of the APACHE photometric survey for the search for planetary transits around cold stars;
4) are responsible for the unit on the processing of the astrometric orbits of extrasolar planets within the framework of the Gaia DPAC Consortium.