The Center was founded to clarify the formation and evolution processes of planetary systems including the solar system. We clarify the physical and chemical properties of diverse exoplanets with astronomical observations, as well as developing new techniques for exoplanetary observations. With the global observation network of ground-based optical telescopes, we promote coordinated observations with space telescopes and high-precision Doppler spectroscopic observations. Through these activities, the Center will contribute to the development of astronomy and also will widen our view of the universe.
Necessity of the Center
The launch of TESS, one of the most important exoplanetary exploration satellites in the next decade, is coming in March 2018. TESS is expected to discover an enormous number of planetary candidates around bright stars suitable for studying future planetary atmospheres and planetary habitability. Constructing a follow-up ground-based observation network for these candidate objects is urgently required. In particular, high-precision Doppler spectroscopic observations, essential for the measurement of planetary mass, can only be done with ground-based telescopes. In order to discover and confirm planets of various orbital periods with Doppler spectroscopy, continuous observation for a certain period of time is essential. In Japan, this can only be done with a 188 cm telescope in the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) Okayama Astrophysical Observatories. Although the telescope has discovered a large number of exoplanets, NAOJ terminated its operation in 2017, and from 2018 it will be operated by users themselves. Operating the telescope exclusively for exoplanetary exploration will enable us to continue leading our research field. With longitude of 120 degrees apart from Europe and the United States, Japan is geographically important for ground-based network observations, and therefore is expected to contribute to important discoveries that would not be possible without Japan.
Since the discovery of the first exoplanet in 1995, more than 3000 exoplanets have been found by planet hunters around the world. What kinds of planets are there in the universe? How do they form and evolve? Is the solar system special? Are there any planets like Earth? – to answer these questions is our goal.
We have been pursuing theoretical and observational researches on exoplanets for years at Tokyo tech. We vigorously pursue these researches more than ever by establishing the Exoplanet Observation Research Center. Look forward to our new research results.