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Published on 26 February 2019

Participant 4, MPG/MPIA

The Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (MPIA) is consortium partner of this proposal. With more than 60 scientists in the Department of Planet and Star Formation led by Prof. Dr. Thomas Henning, MPIA is well-positioned in the field of exoplanets, and keen to play an important role in proposal. Specific expertise on exoplanet research covers a broad range from infrared instrument development, (space-based) instrument operations, observations and data analysis techniques, numerical (magneto-) hydrodynamical simulations, and radiative transfer studies. The institute is one of 83 research institutes within the Max Planck Society, one of Germany's most successful research organizations. The more than 15,000 publications each year in internationally renowned scientific journals and 18 noble prize laureates are proof of the outstanding research work conducted at Max Planck Institutes – and many of those articles are among the most-cited publications in the relevant field.

The Planet and Star Formation Department at MPIA is pursuing a multi-wavelength approach to characterize the formation of planets in circumstellar disks and the atmospheres of exoplanets. This approach puts a special emphasis on the development of high-resolution techniques and spectroscopy. Our department has significantly contributed to the construction of space instrumentation for the ISO (ISOPHOT), Herschel (PACS) and JWST (MIRI) missions. MPIA is the German lead institute for the development of instrumentation and analysis software for the next astrophysics flagship mission JWST. We have also led and contributed to dedicated instruments for the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope Interferometer (MIDI, GRAVITY and MATISSE), and the planet finder SPHERE. The institute is also partner in the high resolution spectrograph CARMENES at the Calar Alto observatory and is a major partner in the consortia constructing the E-ELT instruments METIS and MICADO. All of these instruments are ideally suited to characterize planet forming disks and exoplanet atmospheres.

The institute has initiated new observing programs to search for extrasolar planets through direct imaging, the transit technique (HAT-S), and RV programs (CARMES). With the Spectral Differential Imaging facility (SDI) at the VLT, we provided a new mode for high-contrast imaging with the adaptive optics instrument NACO, which was used to search for planets around young stars. The Angular Differential Imaging technique (ADI) together with Polarimetric Differential Imaging (PDI) outperformed any other similar approach in the world and was paving the way for the development of ESO’s high performance SPHERE instrument, where MPIA is the Co-PI institute. The department actively participates in the 5-years planet search program SEEDS (Strategic Exploration of Exoplanets and Disks with Subaru) with the 8-m Subaru telescope on Mauna Kea (Hawaii) and the LEECH (LBTI Exozodi Exoplanet Common Hunt) program at the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) on Mount Graham (Arizona).

The theoretical program of the Planet and Star Formation department focuses on complex numerical simulations of planet forming circumstellar disks and exoplanet atmospheres, which includes the complex interplay between radiation, dynamics, chemistry, and grain evolution. We study the formation processes of planets including the accretion processes onto proto-planets and the formation of exoplanet atmospheres, and the various planet-disk interactions leading to planetary migration and influencing their compositions. The characterization of giant planets and superearths is supported by various efforts on modelling of exoplanets and their atmospheres at our institute. We have developed the Pressure-Temperature Iterator and Spectral Emission Calculator for Planetary Atmospheres (PETIT) code, which allows us to calculate the angle-dependent, dayside-averaged or globally averaged emission and transmission spectra of planetary atmosphere over a wide parameter range including metallicity, C/O ratio, cloud properties and host spectral type.

Working toward the detection and characterization of earth like planets, MPIA is part of the Heidelberg Initiative for the Origins of Life (HIFOL), which seeks to understand one of the most fundamental questions for humanity: how life emerged on Earth and whether it is widespread in the Universe. HIFOL facilitates a wide range of interdisciplinary theoretical, laboratory, and observational studies in the fields of astronomy, physics, geosciences, chemistry, biology, life sciences and more. HIFOL brings together researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics, the University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg Institute of Theoretical Studies, and Kirchhoff Institute for Physics.

Role in ExoplANETS-A: The Max Planck Institute for Astronomy will participate in WPs 1, 2, 3 and 6, including leadership of WP2. O. Krause will coordinate EXOPLANETS-A activities at MPIA and J. Bouwman will lead WP2 and contribute to WP3.