Expert in: Eclipses, transits, and occultations
- Fundamental astronomy
- Eclipses, transits, and occultations
- Astronomical and space-research instrumentation
- Spectroscopy and spectrophotometry
- Time series analysis, time variability
- Observation and data reduction techniques
- Infrared astronomical observations
- Atmospheres of solid surface planets
- Atmospheres of fluid planets
- Low luminosity stars, subdwarfs and brown dwarfs
- Extrasolar planetary systems
The study of exoplanets aims at establishing the prevalence and diversity of planetary systems in our galaxy, understanding how these systems form and evolve, comprehending the physics involved in their atmosphere and interior and, ultimately, detecting traces of life elsewhere in the universe. This is the main interest of Professor Lafrenière's group. The group's work is primarily performed using infrared imaging techniques that allow them to detect the planets directly, and then measuring their physical properties. To successfully "see" these very faint planets located right next to their host star, which can be several million times brighter, it is necessary to continually develop new observation and image processing techniques and even to build new instruments. With current technology, it is possible to detect gas giant planets with orbits of the outer solar system's size or larger.
In addition to direct imaging of planets, Professor Lafrenière's research group is also interested in the characterization of "hot Jupiter" planets by using transit/eclipse spectrophotometry and transit timing. The group is also involved in studies of brown dwarfs, in stellar and substellar multiplicity studies, and in searching for new young low-mass stars in the solar neighborhood.