Amaury Triaud

2020 United Kingdom Award Finalist — Faculty

Amaury Triaud

Current Position:
Birmingham Fellow and Lecturer, School of Physics and Astronomy

University of Birmingham

Astrophysics & Cosmology

Recognized for: Co-discovering a new exoplanet system that provides the most promising physical conditions to support life among all the planets we know of beyond our Solar system, and improving the understanding of the formation and evolution of exoplanetary systems significantly different from our own Solar system.

Areas of Research Interest and Expertise: Exoplanet, Circumbinary Planet, Exo-atmosphere, Stellar Evolution


MPhys, University of St. Andrews
PhD, University of Geneva, Switzerland (Advisor: Prof. Didier Queloz)
Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Geneva, Switzerland (Advisor: Prof. Didier Queloz)
Swiss National Science Foundation Fellow, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA
Centre for Planetary Sciences Fellow, University of Toronto, Canada
Kavli Exoplanet Fellow, University of Cambridge

Amaury Triaud, PhD, is an astrophysicist searching for exoplanets—planets orbiting stars other than our Sun—and evidence of life beyond the Solar system. He helped develop investigations of the smallest, lowest temperature stars. These are targets of choice since their low luminosity makes it much easier to observe and study exoplanets surrounding them. In particular, he has made seminal contributions to the discovery of a planetary system orbiting TRAPPIST-1—a star much smaller than our Sun. The seven TRAPPIST-1 exoplanets, announced in February 2017, have Earth-like sizes, and some of them provide the most promising temperature, water, and atmosphere conditions to support extraterrestrial life among all the exoplanets discovered to date. Triaud has been instrumental in these discoveries, all the way from proposing the rationale and feasibility of such experiments, conducting proof-of-concept demonstrations using ground-based telescopes, to expanding the research project into several international collaborations using NASA’s cutting-edge space telescopes.

In addition to TRAPPIST-1, Triaud has also pioneered new methodologies to detect exoplanets surrounding two stars instead of one, known as circumbinary planets. His work has demonstrated that circumbinary planets offer many compelling practical advantages for understanding how planets form and evolve. For example, one can measure the mass and size of circumbinary planets with higher accuracies as compared to the planets orbiting a single star. Thanks to Triaud’s work, circumbinary planets are now considered important, central research topics in the field of exoplanets.

“For 2,500 years, humans have wondered whether life exists beyond the Earth. The discovery of many exoplanets contextualises our Earth within the many outcomes of Nature. We are getting ever closer to measure how frequently biology has arisen in the Cosmos.”

Key Publications:

  1. M. Gillon, A.H.M.J. Triaud, E. Jehin, L. Delrez, C. Opitom, P. Magain, M. Lendl, D. Queloz. Fast-evolving Weather for the Coolest of Our Two New Substellar Neighbours. Astronomy & Astrophysics, 2013.
  2. D.V. Martin, A.H.M.J. Triaud. Planets Transiting Non-eclipsing Binaries. Astronomy & Astrophysics, 2014.
  3. M. Gillon, A.H.M.J. Triaud, et al. Seven Temperate Terrestrial Planets around the Nearby Ultracool Dwarf Star TRAPPIST-1. Nature, 2017.
  4. J.J. Zanazzi, A.H.M.J. Triaud. The Ability of Significant Tidal Stress to Initiate Plate Tectonics. Icarus, 2019.

Other Honors:

2019Severo Ochoa Outstanding Visiting Professorship, Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias
2018Starting Grant, European Research Council (ERC)
2014MERAC Prize, European Astronomical Society
2011Plantamour-Prévost Prize, University of Geneva
2011ABB Prize, Swiss Physical Society
2010Robert A. Naef Prize, Swiss Astronomical Society


In the Media:

Popular Mechanics This is thesmallest-ever star discovered

Bonnier Group I don’t want people to believe, I want people to think

The Guardian Atmosphere discovery makes Trappist-1 exoplanet priority in hunt for alien life

The New York Times 7 Earth-Size Planets Orbit Dwarf Star, NASA and European Astronomers Say

BBC Star's seven Earth-sized worlds set record

CBC Astronomers discover smallest star known in our galaxy

The Guardian Exoplanet discovery: seven Earth-sized planets found orbiting nearby star Ultracool Dwarf and the Seven Planets – Warm Jupiters Not As Lonely As Expected Turning Planetary Theory Upside Down