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Natural Sciences and Engineering; Engineering; Fundamental Sciences

Björn Benneke

Exoplanets and atmospheric models, spectroscopy in the infrared domain

Professeur adjoint

Faculté des arts et des sciences - Département de physique

Roger-Gaudry, room D-446

514 343-5816

bjorn.benneke@umontreal.ca

Secondary email: bbenneke@astro.umontreal.ca (Travail)

Profile

Research expertise

The next five years present a truly unique opportunity in the history of planetary astrophysics. For the first time, the observational techniques, the theoretical models, and a sufficient number of known exoplanets orbiting nearby stars are available to spectroscopically characterize a wide diversity of planets. Planets ranging from blazingly hot giant planets to temperate Earth-sized planets in the habitable zone of their host stars.

Many unanswered questions remain: How and where do planets form? What materials make up their interiors? What gases are in their atmospheres? What role do clouds and hazes play? How big can a terrestrial planet be? How small can a gaseous planet be? And finally, what planets are capable of hosting life?

Professor Benneke’s team is currently in an exceptional position to address many of the questions above because they are currently conducting several unprecedented large observational programs using the Hubble Space Telescope, the Spitzer Space Telescope, and the 10-meter Keck observatories. They have developed powerful analysis and modeling framework to interpret these unique data sets. The main areas that Professor Benneke’s group is working on are:

  • Exploring the diversity of planetary atmospheres on super-Earths and exo-Neptunes using Hubble Space Telescope transit spectroscopy. Professor Benneke is the principal investigator of the largest Hubble Space Program in the world to characterize small exoplanets.
  • Probing the formation of giant planets using high-resolution near-infrared spectroscopy from 10-meter Keck telescopes
  • Atmospheric characterization and mapping of exoplanets using the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope (JWST)
  • Understanding the exotic cloud types on exoplanets
  • Discovery and initial characterization of prime targets for future JWST characterization using K2, TESS, and ground-based follow-up

Biography

Professor Benneke is arriving at Université de Montréal from Caltech where he completed a 4-year postdoctoral fellowship focused on exoplanet observation and modeling. He previously received his PhD at MIT supervised by Sara Seager.

Affiliations and responsabilities

Research affiliations

Projects

Research projects

2017 - 2023

Revealing the Nature, Diversity and Formation of Super-Earth Exoplanets

Lead researcher : Björn Benneke
Funding sources: CRSNG/Conseil de recherches en sciences naturelles et génie du Canada (CRSNG)
Grant programs: PVX20965-(RGP) Programme de subvention à la découverte individuelle ou de groupe
2018 - 2022

Caractérisation d'atmosphères d'exoplanètes par spectroscopie de transit avec le télescope spatial James Webb

Lead researcher : David Lafrenière
Co-researchers : René Doyon , Björn Benneke , Nicolas Cowan
Funding sources: FRQNT/Fonds de recherche du Québec - Nature et technologies (FQRNT)
Grant programs: PV113724-(PR) Projets de recherche en équipe (et possibilité d'équipement la première année)
2018 - 2022

NIRISS Guaranteed Time Observations (GTO) program on exoplanets characterization

Lead researcher : David Lafrenière
Co-researchers : René Doyon , Björn Benneke , Nicolas Cowan
Funding sources: Agence spatiale canadienne
Grant programs:
2019 - 2021

VROOMM: A High-Resolution Optical Echelle Spectrograph for the Observatoire du MontMégantic

Lead researcher : René Doyon
Co-researchers : Pierre Bergeron , Simon Thibault , Björn Benneke , David Lafrenière , Nicolas Cowan , Jason Rowe
Funding sources: CRSNG/Conseil de recherches en sciences naturelles et génie du Canada (CRSNG)
Grant programs: PVXXXXXX-(OIR) Outils et d'instruments de recherche (OIR) -1 -(de 7 001 $ à 150 000 $)
2017 - 2020

Exploration de la diversité compositionnelle et la formation de Super-Terres

Lead researcher : Björn Benneke
Funding sources: FRQNT/Fonds de recherche du Québec - Nature et technologies (FQRNT)
Grant programs: PVXXXXXX-(NC) Établissement de la relève professorale
2017 - 2020

Technologies foe Exo-Planetary Science (TEPS)

Lead researcher : Ray Jayawardhana
Co-researchers : Björn Benneke
Funding sources: CRSNG/Conseil de recherches en sciences naturelles et génie du Canada (CRSNG)
Grant programs: PV118026-FONCER : Prog. formation orientée nouveauté, la collaboration et l'expérience en recherche

Outreach

Publications and presentations

Disciplines

  • Physics
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Pure Mathematics
  • Earth Science

Areas of expertise

  • Fundamental aspects of astrophysics
  • Fundamental astronomy
  • Spectroscopy and spectrophotometry
  • Atmospheres of solid surface planets
  • Extrasolar planetary systems
  • Infrared astronomical observations
  • Origin and evolution of solid surface planets