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SPS Seminar - The multi-wavelength effects of stellar activity and the need for a public forecast

Thursday, November 3, 2022 - 14:00 to 15:00

When:  Thursday 3rd November at 14.00

Where:  Microsoft Teams – Robert Hooke/Online

Speaker:  Lalitha Sairam (Birmingham)

Hosted by: Hugh Dickinson


Contemplating the existence of worlds outside our solar system has always intrigued human interest. Since the discovery of the first exoplanet around the main-sequence star ~25 years ago, exoplanets have become the most coveted objects in the Galaxy. Stellar noise produced by magnetic activity such as flares, starspots, and plages mimics a low-mass exoplanet and creates spurious detections of atmospheric species. Although they are modelled for hindrance, stellar activity continues to affect detections by reducing the signal. In this talk, I will give an overview of the challenges that stellar activity poses for exoplanet detection and atmospheric characterisation.

I will describe our ongoing project STellar ACtvity foreCAst for Optimal observations of exoplanets (STACCATO), which is a forecasting model to predict the optimal time for exoplanet detection and atmospheric characteristics reducing the need for stellar activity mitigation. I will also demonstrate how this project is synergistic with ongoing and upcoming missions such as HARPS3, ARIEL and PLATO.


I am a seasoned multi-wavelength observer with secured observation time in both ground-based and space-based telescopes. Starting my career at Hamburg University as a stellar X-ray astronomer, I worked extensively towards understanding the underlying physics of stellar atmospheres and their effects on exoplanets. Over the last few years, I have worked extensively on disentangling the stellar activity signal from the exoplanetary signal, within the framework of the CARMENES consortium. Currently, at the University of Birmingham, I am developing a data-driven method to measure precise radial velocities for enabling circumbinary planets. 

I am passionate about promoting diversity in science and serve as the founding coordinator of '500 Women Scientists - Birmingham Pod', a group dedicated to making science open and inclusive. 



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