Next-Generation Transit Survey

Coordinates: 24°36′57″S 70°23′28″W / 24.61583°S 70.39111°W / -24.61583; -70.39111

The Next-Generation Transit Survey (NGTS) is a ground-based robotic search for exoplanets.[1] The facility is located at Paranal Observatory in the Atacama desert in northern Chile, about 2 km from ESO's Very Large Telescope and 0.5 km from the VISTA Survey Telescope. Science operations began in early 2015.[2] The astronomical survey is managed by a consortium of seven European universities and other academic institutions from Chile, Germany, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.[3] Prototypes of the array were tested in 2009 and 2010 on La Palma, and from 2012 to 2014 at Geneva Observatory.[3]

  • Top: NGTS facility with the VLT (left) and VISTA (right) in the background
  • Middle: the facility (rendered) and night observations
  • Bottom: The array of twelve 0.2-meter robotic telescopes

The aim of NGTS is to discover super-Earths and exo-Neptunes transiting relatively bright and nearby stars with an apparent magnitude of up to 13. The survey uses transit photometry, which precisely measures the dimming of a star to detect the presence of a planet when it crosses in front of it. NGTS consists of an array of twelve commercial 0.2-metre telescopes (f/2.8), each equipped with a red-sensitive CCD camera operating in the visible and near-infrared at 600–900 nm. The array covers an instantaneous field of view of 96 square degrees (8 deg2 per telescope) or around 0.23% of the entire sky.[4] NGTS builds heavily on experience with SuperWASP, using more sensitive detectors, refined software, and larger optics, though having a much smaller field of view.[5] Compared to the Kepler spacecraft with its original Kepler field of 115 square degrees, the sky area covered by NGTS will be sixteen times larger, because the survey intends to scan four different fields every year over a period of four years. As a result, the sky coverage will be comparable to that of Kepler's K2 phase.[4]

NGTS is suited to ground-based photometric follow-up of exoplanet candidates from space-based telescopes such as TESS, Gaia and PLATO.[1] In turn, larger instruments such as HARPS, ESPRESSO and VLT-SPHERE may follow-up on NGTS discoveries with a detailed characterization to measure the mass of a large number of targets using Doppler spectroscopy (wobble method) and make it possible to determine the exoplanet's density, and hence whether it is gaseous or rocky. This detailed characterization allows to fill the gap between Earth-sized planets and gas giants as other ground-based surveys can only detect Jupiter-sized exoplanets, and Kepler's Earth-sized planets are often too far away or orbit stars too dim to allow for the planet's mass determination. NGTS's wider field of view also enables it to detect a larger number of more-massive planets around brighter stars.[6][7]

Science missionEdit

The Next-Generation Transit Survey (NGTS) searches for transiting exoplanets, i.e. planets that pass in front of their parent star, resulting in a slight dimming of the star's light that can be detected by sensitive instruments. This time-lapse sequence was taken during testing under a bright Moon.

Ground-based surveys for extrasolar planets such as WASP and the HATNet Project have discovered many large exoplanets, mainly Saturn- and Jupiter-sized gas giants. Space-based missions such as CoRoT and the Kepler survey have extended the results to smaller objects, including rocky super-Earth- and Neptune-sized exoplanets.[4] Orbiting space missions have a higher accuracy of stellar brightness measurement than is possible via ground-based measurements, but they have probed a relatively small region of sky. Unfortunately, most of the smaller candidates orbit stars that are too faint for confirmation by radial-velocity measurements. The masses of these smaller candidate planets are hence either unknown or poorly constrained, such that their bulk composition cannot be estimated.[4]

By focusing on super-Earth- to Neptune-sized targets orbiting cool, small, but bright stars of K and early-M spectral type, over an area considerably larger than that covered by space missions, NGTS is intended to provide prime targets for further scrutiny by telescopes such as the Very Large Telescope (VLT), European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), and the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). Such targets are more readily characterized in terms of their atmospheric composition, planetary structure, and evolution than smaller targets orbiting larger stars.[3]

In follow-up observations by larger telescopes, powerful means will be available to probe the atmospheric composition of exoplanets discovered by NGTS. For example, during secondary eclipse, when the star occults the planet, a comparison between the in-transit and out-of-transit flux allows computation of a difference spectrum representing the thermal emission of the planet.[8] Calculation of the transmission spectrum of the planet's atmosphere can be obtained by measuring the small spectral changes in the spectrum of the star that arise during the planet's transit. This technique requires an extremely high signal-to-noise ratio, and has thus far been successfully applied to only a few planets orbiting small, nearby, relatively bright stars, such as HD 189733 b and GJ 1214 b. NGTS is intended to greatly increase the number of planets that area analyzable using such techniques.[8] Simulations of expected NGTS performance reveal the potential of discovering approximately 231 Neptune- and 39 super-Earth-sized planets amenable to detailed spectrographic analysis by the VLT, compared to only 21 Neptune- and 1 super-Earth-sized planets from the Kepler data.[4]

InstrumentEdit

DevelopmentEdit

The scientific goals of the NGTS require being able to detect transits with a precision of 1 mmag at 13th magnitude. Although at ground level this level of accuracy was routinely achievable in narrow-field observations of individual objects, it was unprecedented for a wide-field survey.[4] To achieve this goal, the designers of the NGTS instruments drew upon an extensive hardware and software heritage from the WASP project, in addition to developing many refinements in prototype systems operating on La Palma during 2009 and 2010, and at the Geneva Observatory from 2012 to 2014.[6]

Telescope arrayEdit

NGTS employs an automated array of twelve 20-centimeter f/2.8 telescopes on independent equatorial mounts and operating at orange to near-infrared wavelengths (600–900 nm). It is located at the European Southern Observatory's Paranal Observatory in Chile, a location noted for low water-vapor and excellent photometric conditions.

Combined searchEdit

The NGTS telescope project cooperates closely with ESO's large telescopes. ESO facilities available for follow-up studies include the High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS) at La Silla Observatory; ESPRESSO for radial-velocity measurements at the VLT; SPHERE, an adaptive optics system and coronagraphic facility at the VLT that directly images extrasolar planets;[9] and a variety of other VLT and planned E-ELT instruments for atmospheric characterization.[4]

PartnershipEdit

Although located at Paranal Observatory, NGTS is not in fact operated by ESO, but by a consortium of seven academic institutions from Chile, Germany, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom:[3]

ResultsEdit

  • On 31 October 2017, the discovery of NGTS-1b, a confirmed hot Jupiter-sized extrasolar planet orbiting NGTS-1, an M-dwarf star, about half the mass and radius of the Sun, every 2.65 days, was reported by the survey team.[10][11][12] Daniel Bayliss, of the University of Warwick, and lead author of the study describing the discovery of NGTS-1b, stated, "The discovery of NGTS-1b was a complete surprise to us—such massive planets were not thought to exist around such small stars – importantly, our challenge now is to find out how common these types of planets are in the Galaxy, and with the new Next-Generation Transit Survey facility we are well-placed to do just that."[12]
  • On 3 September 2018, the discovery of NGTS-4b, a sub-Neptune-sized planet transiting a 13th magnitude K-dwarf in a 1.34 day orbit. NGTS-4b has a mass 20.6 ± 3.0 MEarth and radius 3.18 ± 0.26 REarth, which places it well within the so-called "Neptunian Desert". The mean density of the planet (3.45 ± 0.95 g cm−3) is consistent with a composition of 100% H2O or a rocky core with a volatile envelope.[13]

DiscoveriesEdit

This is a list of planets discovered by this survey. This list is incomplete, and requires more information.

Light green indicates that the planet orbits one or both stars in a binary system.

Star Constellation Right
ascension
Declination App.
mag.
Distance (ly) Spectral
type
Planet Mass
(MJ)
Radius
(RJ)
Orbital
period

(d)
Semimajor
axis

(AU)
Orbital
eccentricity
Inclination
(°)
Discovery
year
NGTS-1 Columba 05h 30m 51.41s −36° 37′ 51.53″ 15.67 711 M0.5 V NGTS-1b 0.812 1.33 2.65 0.023 0.016 85.27 2017[10]
NGTS-2 Centaurus 14h 20m 29.46s −31° 12′ 07.45″ 10.79 1,162 F5 V NGTS-2b 0.74 1.595 4.51 0.04 0 83.45 2018[14]
NGTS-3 Columba 06h 17m 46.74s −35° 42′ 22.91″ 14.669 2,426 G6 V + K1 V NGTS-3Ab 2.38 1.48 1.68 0.02 0? 89.56 2018[15]
NGTS-4 Columba 05h 58m 23.75s −30° 48′ 42.36″ 13.12 922 K2 V NGTS-4b 0.06 0.25 1.34 0.02 0 82.5 ± 5.8 2018[13]
NGTS-5 Virgo 14h 44m 13.97s 05° 36′ 19.42″ 13.77 1,009 K2 V + M2 V NGTS-5Ab 0.229 1.136 3.36 0.04 0? 86.6 ± 0.2 2019[16]
NGTS-6 Caelum 05h 03m 10.90s −30° 23′ 57.72″ 14.12 1,014 K4 V NGTS-6Ab 1.339 ± 0.028 1.326 0.882 0.01 0 78.231 2019[17]
NGTS-8 Capricornus 21h 55m 54.22s −14° 04′ 6.38″ 13.68 1,399 K0 V NGTS-8b 0.93 ± 0.01 1.09 ± 0.03 2.50 0.035 0.01 86.9 ± 0.5 2019[18]
NGTS-9 Hydra 09h 27m 40.95s −19° 20′ 51.53″ 12.80 1,986 F8 V NGTS-9b 2.90 ± 0.17 1.07 ± 0.06 4.435 0.058 0.06 84.1 ± 0.4 2019[18]
NGTS-10 Lepus 06h 07m 29.31s −25° 35′ 40.61″ 14.34 1,059 K5 V + K5 V NGTS-10Ab 2.162 1.205 0.77 0.0143 0? ? 2019[19]
NGTS-11 Cetus 01h 34m 05.14s −14° 25′ 09.16″ 12.46 621 K2 V NGTS-11b 0.344 0.817 35.455 0.201 0.11 ? 2020[20]
NGTS-12 Centaurus 11h 44m 59.99s −35° 48′ 26.03″ 12.38 1,456 G4 V NGTS-12b 0.208 1.048 7.53  0.0757 0? 88.90 ± 0.76 2020[21]
NGTS-13 Centaurus 11h 44m 57.68s −38° 08′ 22.96″ 12.70 2,151 G2 IV NGTS-13b 4.84 1.142 4.119 0.0549 0.086 88.7 2021[22]
NGTS-14 Grus 21h 54m 04.23s −38° 22′ 38.79″ 13.24 1,060 K1 V + M3 V NGTS-14Ab 0.092 0.44 3.536 0.0403 0? 86.7 2021[23]
NGTS-15 Eridanus 04h 53m 25.27s −32° 48′ 01.25″ 14.67 2,626 G6 V NGTS-15b 0.751 1.10 ± 0.10 3.276 0.0441 0 ? 2021[24]
NGTS-16 Fornax 03h 53m 03.34s −30° 48′ 16.71″ 14.36 3,008 G7 V NGTS-16b 0.667 1.30 4.845 0.0523 0 ? 2021[24]
NGTS-17 Caelum 04h 51m 36.14s −34° 13′ 34.18″ 14.31 3,366 G4 V NGTS-17b 0.764 1.24 ± 0.11 3.242 0.0391 0 ? 2021[24]
NGTS-18 Hydra 12h 02m 11.09s −35° 32′ 54.99″ 14.54 3,689 G5 V NGTS-18b 0.409 1.21 ± 0.18 3.051 0.0448 0 ? 2021[24]
NGTS-20 Eridanus 46h 17m 33.43s −21° 56′ 01.1″ 11.79 1,248 G1 IV NGTS-20b 2.98 1.07±0.04 54.189 0.313 0.432 ± 0.023 88.4 ± 0.6 2022[25]
NGTS-21 Sculptor 20h 45m 01.99s −35° 25′ 40.23″ 14.82 2,090 K3 V NGTS-21b 2.36 ± 0.21 1.33 ± 0.03 1.543 0.0236 0 83.85 ± 0.44 2022[26]
HATS-54 (NGTS-22)[note 1] Phoenix 13h 22m 32.4s −44° 41′ 20.0″ 13.914 2,348 G6 V HATS-54b (NGTS-22b) 1.015 ± 0.024 0.753 ± 0.057 2.544 0.0370 0 83.67 ± 0.34 2018[27][28]
NGTS-23 Horologium 04h 41m 43.6s −40° 02′ 41.0″ 14.010 3,232 F9 V NGTS-23b 0.613 ± 0.097 1.267 ± 0.030 4.076 0.0504 0 89.12 2022[28]
NGTS-24 Antlia 11h 14m 15.3s −37° 54′ 36.5″ 13.192 2,364 G2 IV NGTS-24b 0.520 1.214 3.467 0.0479 0 82.61 2022[28]
NGTS-25 Sagittarius 20h 29m 40.3s −39° 01′ 55.5″ 14.266 1,686 K0 V NGTS-25b 0.639 1.023 2.823 0.0388 0 89.34 2022[28]

In addition, the survey has discovered two brown dwarfs.

Star Constellation Right
ascension
Declination App.
mag.
Distance (ly) Spectral
type
Planet Mass
(MJ)
Radius
(RJ)
Orbital
period

(d)
Semimajor
axis

(AU)
Orbital
eccentricity
Inclination
(°)
Discovery
year
NGTS-7 A Sculptor 23h 30m 05.26s −38° 58′ 11.70″ 14.34 449 M3/4 V + M3/4 V NGTS-7Ab 75.5 1.349 16.22 h 0.0139 0? 88.43520 2019[29]
NGTS-19 Libra 15h 16m 31.6s −25° 42′ 17.24″ 14.12 1,223 K3 V NGTS-19b 69.5 1.034 17.84 0.1296 0.3767 88.72 2021[30]

See alsoEdit

Other exoplanet search projectsEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Discovered by HATNet, updated parameters by NGTS.

ReferencesEdit

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  22. ^ Grieves, Nolan; et al. (2021). "NGTS-13b: A hot 4.8 Jupiter-mass planet transiting a subgiant star". Astronomy & Astrophysics. 647: A180. arXiv:2101.04245. doi:10.1051/0004-6361/202039586. S2CID 231582818.
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  25. ^ Ulmer-Moll, S.; et al. (2022). "Two long-period transiting exoplanets on eccentric orbits: NGTS-20 b (TOI-5152 b) and TOI-5153 B". Astronomy & Astrophysics. 666: A46. arXiv:2207.03911. doi:10.1051/0004-6361/202243583. S2CID 250408027.
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  27. ^ Espinoza, N.; Hartman, J. D.; Bakos, G. Á.; Henning, T.; Bayliss, D.; Bento, J.; Bhatti, W.; Brahm, R.; Csubry, Z.; Suc, V.; Jordán, A.; Mancini, L.; Tan, T. G.; Penev, K.; Rabus, M.; Sarkis, P.; De Val-Borro, M.; Durkan, S.; Lázár, J.; Papp, I.; Sári, P. (2019). "HATS-54b–HATS-58Ab: Five New Transiting Hot Jupiters Including One with a Possible Temperate Companion". The Astronomical Journal. 158 (2): 63. arXiv:1812.07668. doi:10.3847/1538-3881/ab26bb. S2CID 119409621.
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External linksEdit