Astronomy & Astrophysics Seminar: Towards Generalized Characterization of Exoplanet Atmospheres with Transit Spectroscopy

Luis Welbanks, Sagan Fellow, Arizona State University

13 October 2021, 14:10 
Kaplun Building, Room 103 
Astronomy & Astrophysics Seminar




The field of exoplanetary sciences has grown from an era of detection to one of characterization. The current population of characterized exoplanets spans a wide range of parameter space; from ultra-hot Jupiters with atmospheric temperatures beyond 3000 K, to temperate mini Neptunes that may host water in their atmospheres. Moreover, a complete data revolution is at our doorstep. The imminent launch of JWST will deliver exquisite spectra of exoplanet atmospheres at wavelengths never probed before, with unprecedented precision, and at much higher resolution than existing space missions. In conjunction with the forthcoming 30m-Class Telescopes, these remarkable datasets will provide new information about planetary composition, chemical processes, clouds, and climate. This tremendous intake of new data and information presents a unique opportunity to revolutionize our understanding of planetary atmospheres and provide context for the planets in our solar system. 


In this talk I will present our work in preparation for this imminent data revolution and our efforts to perform a corresponding examination of the core modeling assumptions inevitably employed to infer basic planetary conditions. I will explain the novel ways in which we can leverage recent exquisite spectroscopic observations of exoplanet atmospheres, and state-of-the-art inference tools, to conduct homogeneous chemical abundance surveys for transiting exoplanets. Such studies enable us to address population level hypotheses regarding the origin and evolution of planets. Finally, I will discuss some of the outstanding questions from our research and the prospect of future modelling and retrieval approaches to robustly characterize exoplanet atmospheres. 




Seminar Organizer: Dr. Iair Arcavi

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