The NGTS telescopes at the ESO Paranal Observatory in Chile. The ESO Very Large Telescope can be seen in the background. (Credit: G. Lambert)
The Next-Generation Transit Survey (NGTS) is a wide-field photometric
survey designed primarily to find and characterise transiting exoplanets.
NGTS employs an array of small fully-robotic telescopes operating at red-optical wavelengths (520-890nm) thereby maximizing sensitivity to bright but
relatively cool and small host stars (K and early-M spectral type). The project is described in detail by Wheatley et al (2018).
We routinely achieve photometric precison of 150 parts per million (ppm), which is unprecedented for a wide-field ground-based facility. This high precision has enabled the discovery of exoplanets as small as 3 Earth radii (e.g. NGTS-4b; West et al, 2019).
NGTS is sited at the Paranal Observatory, which is the premier site of the European Southern Observatory (ESO) in the Atacama Desert in the north of Chile. Paranal is also home to ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT). The site meets strict requirements for low water vapor and excellent photometric conditions. NGTS was the first external project granted access to the Paranal site, reflecting strong synergy with ESO telescopes that can be used to detailed characterisation of exoplanets studied with NGTS. NGTS also carries out observations in support of the ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT).
We also welcome enquiries from potential collaborators interested in joining the NGTS consortium. In the first instance, please contact the principle investigator: Peter Wheatley (University of Warwick).
Mar 2022: NGTS searches for more exoplanets with citizen scientists!Planet Hunters NGTS launched in October 2021 allowing members of the public to
join our search for more exoplanets. Zooniverse volunteers classify phase-folded light curves according to the shape of any transits (U or V)
and whether there is stellar variability or large data gaps in the images presented. Since launch, over 2.6 million classifications have been made by over 7000
volunteers on archival and fresh NGTS data! The volunteers also vet the most promising light curves with secondary eclipse
and odd/even transit checks to spot any eclipsing binaries. The project has already detected previously known planets such as NGTS-5b (right)
and the team continues to sift the data to find anything missed by the NGTS eyeballing team. Follow the progress @PH_NGTS.
Jun 2021: NGTS detects transit timing variations for 542-day orbital period planet. Of the eleven observatories around the world trying to detect the transit of HIP 41378f, only NGTS was successful. This extraordinary transiting planet has an extremely low density and an orbital period of 542 days. The NGTS transit is only the third to be detected, and the first detected from the ground. It reveals a transit time two hours earlier than expected, most likely due to the gravitational attraction of other planets in the system. Future observations will help establish the total number of planets and their masses.
Read the full journal article.
Jan 2021: Discovery of a six-planet system with a chain of resonant orbits. TOI-178 is a remarkably close-packed plantary system, with a wide range of planet densities, in which five of the planets are in chain of mean-motion resonances. Initially identified by TESS, NGTS played a crucial role in unraveling the orbital periods of the planets, ruling out one proposed planet, and confirming two others. The system places important constraints on the formation of super-Earths and mini-Neptunes.Read the Warwick press release and the full journal article.
26 Sep 2020: NGTS resumes operations after COVID-19 shutdown. Along with the rest of the ESO Paranal Obseravtory, NGTS has been closed since March due to COVID-19 restrictions. Thanks to the robotic nature of the NGTS telescopes, we are able to resume operations now that ESO is in a position to provide emergency cover for the facility.
Read the ESO annoucement of minimal science operations at Paranal.
Jul 2020: NGTS-11b is one of the coolest gas giants known. It is the first exoplanet to be confirmed after being initially identified as a single-transit event in TESS data. After intensive monitoring for 79 nights, NGTS recovered a second transit, allowing the orbital period of 35 days to be determined. NGTS-11b has a mass and radius similar to Saturn, and an equilibrium temperature of only 435 K. Read the Warwick press release and the full journal article.
Jul 2020: Second NGTS public data release (NGTS DR2). The data release includes 110 billion photometric measurements of more than six hundred thousand stars. It is a total of 4 TB of data. Read the ESO Announcement including the release notes.
Jul 2020: Discovery of an exposed planetary core. Published in Nature, NGTS confirmed the TESS detection of transits of TOI-849b, a dense planetary core found deep in the Neptunian desert. The NGTS light curve was also crucial for defining the shape of the transit, which was blurred by the 30 min cadence of the TESS full-frame data. Read the Warwick press release, the full preprint or the original Nature article. Image credit: University of Warwick/Mark Garlick.