From the statistics to the individual characterisation of exoplanets

Event Date: 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013 - 4:00pm

Event Location: 

  • Broida 3302

Event Contact: 

Peng Oh

Astrophysics Seminar

Speaker:

Jean-Michel Desert (Caltech)

The field of exoplanetology has recently transitioned from the investigation of individual objects to statistical studies. In this talk, I discuss both the statistical approach of planetary detection and the individual characterisation of their atmospheres.

The CoRoT and Kepler space missions have revealed an unprecedented number of small exoplanet candidates. However, a fundamental question remains about the large sample of Kepler candidates: are these objects really bona-fide planets? I will discuss methods that we are employing to answer this question.

Answers to key questions about exoplanet science come not only from statistics, but also from individual characterisation. Studying the atmospheres of exoplanets is the next step in leveraging their detections to further transform our understanding of planetary formation and physics. This is because a planet's atmosphere provides a fossil record of its primordial origins and controls its fate, size and appearance. I present ongoing comparative exoplanetology programs that aim to characterise planetary systems transiting nearby stars through the observations of their atmospheres. I combine ground- and space-based multi-wavelength observations secured over wide spectral regions in order to probe exoplanet atmospheres. These projects provide insights into the formation and evolution of planetary systems and enhance our understanding of our own Solar System's formation. Finally, I also discuss the prospect of probing rocky exoplanet atmospheres orbiting in the habitable zone of their parent stars with future facilities.