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The UF ET team, working with international collaborators, is about to launch a large-scale search for new planets around a total of about 11,000 nearby stars with V=8-12 using new generation multi-object Doppler instruments in September 2008. This number will dwarfs the roughly 3,000 stars that astronomers have searched over the past decade for extrasolar planets. This survey is called MARVELS (Multi-object Apache Point Observatory Radial Velocity Exoplanet Large-area Survey. This survey is part of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey III (SDSS-III) program using the 2.5 meter wide field SDSS telescope in 2008-2014. The major goals for the MARVELS survey are to provide the largest homogeneous giant planet sample for revealing the diversity in giant exoplanet populations and testing models of the formation, migration, and dynamical evolution of giant planet systems. The survey will also possibly find rare planets, transiting planets, as well as signposts for planet systems with lower-mass or more distance planets to be detected by follow-up observations.
Sloan Digital Sky Survey telescope at dawn (photo by Jian Ge, 2006)
The MARVELS survey takes great advantage of the new generation multi-object Doppler instruments being developed at UF. The UF team is applying its cutting-edge Doppler technique in developing new generation EXtremely high Precision ExtrasolaR planet Tracker (EXPERT) instruments, aiming for 0.5-1 m/s long term Doppler precision for V<8 solar type stars at 2 meter class telescopes around the world through international collaborations. The team is applying the same technique in developing a prototype IR version ET instrument aiming for 3-10m/s for J < 9 M dwarfs at the Apache Point Observatory 3.5m telescope through domestic collaborations with University of Colorado. The team is also applying a large format silicon immersion grating developed at UF in developing the Florida IR Silicon immersion grating spectromeTer (FIRST) for the APO 3.5m telescope, aiming at R=55,000 in the J and H band and 3-10 m/s Doppler precision for J <9 M dwarfs.
Artist T. Riecken's concept of planets orbiting a distant sun-like star to be discovered by MARVELS.