The detection and characterization of Earth-like exoplanets in the habitable zone of their host star is a key part in the search for life outside the solar system. As part of his M.Sc. project, Thomas is interested in using radial velocity data from the SpectroPolarimètre InfraRouge (SPIRou) to study such planets. These data can provide constraints on the mass and the orbit of exoplanets. However, low-mass stars studied with SPIRou are well-known for their magnetic activity, which causes an RV jitter that can mimic the signal of planet. To properly characterize these systems, it is crucial to model this stellar activity. To do so, various techniques, such as Gaussian processes, can be used. Thomas is implementing tools to efficiently apply such techniques in the context of exoplanets.
During his undergraduate degree at McGill University, Thomas completed two summer internships at iREx under the supervision of René Doyon, Julien Rameau and Lauren Weiss. He was interested in using Gaussian Processes to model the pulsations of Beta Pictoris. This method provides a simple and efficient way of modelling the stellar pulsations, and of subtracting them from the radial velocities of the star. The results can then be used to constrain the mass and the orbit of the two giant planets in this system.