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David Charbonneau

Center for Astrophysics
Professor of Astronomy, Astronomer


My research goals are to detect and characterize planets orbiting other stars; these worlds are known as exoplanets. I am fascinated by planets in edge-on orbits, such that the planet periodically passes in front of its star. These systems offer unparalleled opportunities to determine the properties of the planet and its atmosphere. I am currently focusing my efforts on terrestrial exoplanets, worlds that are primarily composed of rock and iron, and which may possess thin atmospheres like that of the Earth. I am also engaged in the physics of low-mass stars, and seek to understand how they generate magnetic fields and how they spin down with time.

I lead the MEarth Project, I am a co-investigator in the NASA TESS Mission and the HARPS-N Project, and I am engaged in the conversion of the 1.3m telescope into an automated ultra-precise photometer. I recently co-chaired the National Academies' Exoplanet Science Strategy, which described a national strategy for the study of exoplanets and the search for life upon them.

PhD Astronomy, Harvard University (2001)