The Institute

The Complexe des sciences at the Université de Montréal's MIL Campus. (Credit: UdeM)
The Complexe des sciences at the Université de Montréal's MIL Campus. (Credit: UdeM)

The Trottier Institute for Research on Exoplanets (iREx) is a research institute based at the Université de Montréal (UdeM) with several members at McGill University, Bishop’s University, the Université Laval and the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium at Space for Life. Since 2020, the iREx physical centre is located at the Complexe des sciences of the UdeM’s new MIL Campus.

The logos of the Université de Montréal, McGill University, Bishop’s University, the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetariumwith Space for Life and the Université Laval.

When it was inaugurated in 2014, the iREx had barely a dozen members. Since then, the iREx team has grown tremendously through the active recruitment of new members. Our team now has over 60 members in addition to many interns who join us every summer.

To carry out their mission, iREx researchers focus their research projects on three main themes: observation, instrumentation, and theory. Various observational methods are used to detect exoplanets, both directly and indirectly. Observations conducted by iREx researchers are oriented along different axes including high contrast direct imaging, high precision infrared velocimetry, and transit spectroscopy.

An artist’s rendering of an exoplanet and its star (M. Weiss/CfA); an artist’s rendering of a brown dwarf (NASA/JPL-Caltech); an artist’s rendering of a white dwarf and the Moon to compare their sizes (G. Parissi); an image of the asteroid Vesta (NASA).

Our researchers are interested in a multitude of celestial bodies such as:

In addition, several iREx members specialise in the study of planet formation and evolution using theoretical models.

From left to right: the NIRPS instrument (N. Blind, Geneva Observatory/NIRPS/ESO Consortium), the James Webb Space Telescope (ESA/ATG Medialab), the SPIRou instrument (S. Chastenet/CNRS/OMP), the Observatoire du Mont-Mégantic.

Through its collaborations with the Laboratoire d’astrophysique expérimentale (LAE) of the Observatoire du Mont-Mégantic (OMM), the iREx is one of few teams who have access to such a wide range of powerful scientific instruments dedicated to the observation of exoplanets. Its researchers study, develop and improve data analysis techniques and drive iREx to the forefront of exoplanet research. iREx instrumentation projects include the FGS/NIRISS instrument, which is the Canadian contribution on the James Webb Space Telescope, the SPIRou and NIRPS high-precision infrared spectrographs, installed in Hawai’i and Chile respectively, the GPI imager on the Gemini-South telescope, and the PESTO optical camera at the OMM.