Wednesday 19 Nov 2014: Seminar: Exoplanet Characterisation from Space: from Gas Giants to Super Earths
Dr Brice-Olivier Demory - University of Cambridge
Physics, 4th floor 14:00-15:00
In the past ten years, space-based facilities have propelled exoplanet science to a level far beyond our hopes. I will review recent results that have contributed to improve our knowledge of hot-Jupiter and super-Earth properties. I will discuss how the combination of datasets from instruments operating at different wavelengths allow us to better understand the circulation patterns in highly irradiated gas giant atmospheres. I will also describe current progress toward the characterisation of super-Earths, which are planets with masses and radii between those of Neptune and the Earth. I will present the results of a new program employing both Kepler and Spitzer space telescopes to better understand super-Earths properties, by combining observations obtained in different wavelength regimes. We find that some super-Earths initially thought to be volatile-rich exhibit circulation patterns matching a rocky composition, requiring new developments regarding our knowledge of super-Earth interiors. I will also present new results regarding the search for transiting Earth-size planets orbiting Alpha Centauri B with the Hubble Space Telescope. I will finally briefly describe the prospects towards the detection of biosignatures within the next decade.