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2018 Hot Sci @ STScI

Exotic Clouds: A Comparative Study of Exoplanet Atmospheres

Presented by: Hannah Wakeford (Space Telescope Science Institute)
Category: Science Colloquia   Duration: 30 minutes   Broadcast date: June 13, 2018
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6/13/18 Hannah Wakeford (STScI) Title: Exotic Clouds: A Comparative Study of Exoplanet Atmospheres Abstract: Spectroscopic observations have dominated the characterization of exoplanet atmospheres, but we need to be able to link them to the models we use to understand the physics. Deciphering the role of clouds is central to our understanding of planetary atmospheres, as they have a direct impact on the temperature-pressure structure, and observational properties of the planet. Comparative exoplanetology studies with ground- and space-based instruments present a startling diversity in in atmospheric spectral features, where clouds are shown to mute and obscure atomic and molecular absorption signatures. However, all is not lost; while compositional information may be masked in the optical and near-infrared, enhanced scattering profiles can be used to constrain cloud particle sizes giving insight into local atmospheric dynamics. I will detail the different approaches used to interpret exoplanet transmission spectra and the paths we are forging to understand the nature of these worlds and their exotic clouds.