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2017 Spring Science Colloquia

Revealing the Astmospheres of Extrasolar Super-Earths

Presented by: Eliza Kempton  (Grinnell College)
Category: Science Colloquia   Duration: 1 hour   Broadcast date: April 19, 2017
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Discoveries of extrasolar planets over the last two decades have reshaped our understanding of how planetary systems form. Super-Earths – planets intermediate in size/mass between Earth and Neptune – do not exist in our Solar System, and the discovery of such planets poses a challenge to theories of planetary formation and composition based on the Solar System paradigm. Through observations of the atmospheres of these planets, we can learn about their formation history, their climate, and in some cases their propensity to support life. This talk will focus on the modeling of super-Earth atmospheres as it relates to current and future observations. I will detail the current state of characterization efforts for super-Earth atmospheres, focusing on the challenges and successes in modeling and interpreting the early observations of these objects. I will conclude with a forward-looking view of super-Earth atmospheric studies over the next 5-10 years, in the era of JWST and 30-meter class ground-based telescopes.