Ground- and spaced-based observatories study extrasolar planets. Also known as exoplanets, these exist outside of our solar system and usually orbit a star other than the sun. As Canada Research Chair in Experimental Astrophysics and Exoplanetary Sciences, Dr. René Doyon is developing advanced instrumentation for these observatories. He also hopes to use them to study nearby habitable worlds.
The ultimate goal for Doyon and his research team is to detect a biosignature—that is, a spectral fingerprint of biological activity from an exoplanet atmosphere. To that end, they are leading numerous programs focused on gathering accurate mass and stellar abundance measurements. They are also running atmospheric studies that use state-of-the-art observing facilities that Doyon has helped develop over the last two decades, including two ground-based, high-resolution infrared spectrographs and the James Webb Space Telescope.