The SPIRou Legacy Survey

The SPIRou Legacy Survey will be dedicated to the two main science goals of SPIRou.  

The first main goal of the SPIRou Legacy Survey will be to search for, and to characterize, exo-Earths orbiting low-mass stars – with a particular interest for planets located in the habitable zone of their host stars.  By giving access to a much larger sample of stars than existing instruments, SPIRou will considerably expand our chances to detect and characterize Earth-like planets in the habitable zones of low-mass stars, and to achieve a statistical survey of rocky exoplanets around M dwarfs. SPIRou will also crucially contribute to the forthcoming extensive photometric surveys of transiting planets around M dwarfs. We thus propose that the search for Earth-like exoplanets around low-mass dwarfs to be carried out within the Legacy Survey consists of two main components: 

  • a systematic radial velocity monitoring of nearby M dwarfs, called the SPIRou Legacy Survey Planet Search;
  • a radial velocity follow-up of the most interesting transiting planet candidates uncovered by future photometry surveys, called the SPIRou Legacy Survey Transit Follow-up

The second main goal of the SPIRou Legacy Survey will be to investigate how much magnetic fields impact star and planet formation, by detecting and characterizing magnetic fields of protostars at different evolutionary stages – the study of how Sun-like stars and their planetary systems form coming as a logical complement to the direct observation of exoplanets.  With its unprecedented magnetic sensitivity, SPIRou will have the potential to survey a much larger sample of protostars than previous instruments, and to extend for the first time this study to younger objects that are still embedded in their dust cocoons and only accessible at IR wavelengths.  SPIRou will also have the power to detect hot Jupiters orbiting around low-mass protostars and thus to verify whether these planets are either much more or much less frequent around young solar analogs than around mature Sun-like stars – yielding a direct observational test of the formation and migration of these planets.  We thus propose to add a third component to the SPIRou Legacy Survey:

  • a sensitive survey of the magnetic properties of protostars in nearby star forming regions, called the SPIRou Legacy Magnetic Protostar / Planet survey.

A more extensive description of the SPIRou Legacy Survey (mainly for scientists) is given in the following document: