Cal Poly Pomona

Physics Seminar

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Grand Tour: Planetary Atmospheres Outside the Solar System

Heather Knutson

California Institute of Technology

The past decade has marked a period of great progress in our quest to discover and characterize the properties of the planets outside of our own solar system.
Observations of transiting systems, in which the planet periodically passes in front of and then behind its star as seen from the earth, have given us new insight into the nature of these unusual worlds.

I will discuss ongoing efforts to understand the diverse properties of exoplanet atmospheres, including their compositions, temperatures, and global circulation patterns.

Open questions in this area include:

  • Why do some close-in planets have dayside stratospheres, while others do not?
  • What role does photochemistry play in these atmospheres?
  • How is energy transported from the day to the night side on tidally-locked planets?

I will show how we are addressing these problems using large ongoing surveys with the Spitzer Space Telescope, and discuss prospects for characterizing the atmospheres of smaller and more earth-like planets with current and upcoming facilities such as the James Webb Space Telescope.

Refreshments at 11:00 AM. Seminar begins at 11:10 AM.
Building 8, Room 241
For further information, please call (909) 869-4014

Last modified on October 31, 2011
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