PhD thesis Defence by Kennet Harpsøe – Niels Bohr Institutet - Københavns Universitet

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PhD thesis Defence by Kennet Harpsøe

Gravitational Microlensing of Earth-mass Planets


Abstract:
It is only 17 years ago that the first planet out side our solar system was discovered. Subsequently over 600 exo-planets have been discovered, and we know now that exo-planets are common. But pronounced selection effects, in detections with the two most common planet detection methods, introduces a bias towards massive short period exoplanets. As a result the overall structure of a typical exo-solar system is currently unknown.

The structure of a typical exo-solar system could have implications for the number of wet Earth-like planets in the galaxy in view of planet migration and the late heavy bombardment. Ultimately the number of wet Earth-like planets in the galaxy is thought to have implications for how common life is in our galaxy.

In this defence I will outline the detection method, gravitational microlensing, which is
much less biased towards massive short period planets, and describe observational
improvements to this technique that I have developed during my PhD,
These improvements have lowered the mass limit of detectable planets into the range of Earth-mass.