Wednesday 22 Mar 2017Atmospheric retrieval analysis of cloudy atmospheres

Dr. Ben Burningham - University of Hertfordshire

Physics, 4th Floor 14:00-15:00

One of the most pressing problems in exoplanetary science is the robust determination of atmospheric composition in the presence of clouds. As the number of directly imaged exoplanets grow over the coming years, having robust comparisons of stellar and planetary compositions will be crucial for advancing our understanding of giant planet formation. At present, most estimates of the properties of directly imaged explanets rely on comparison to brown dwarfs, or to evolutionary and atmospheric grid models originally developed for brown dwarfs. This approach is unsatisfactory for reasons I will discuss in detail. I will outline progress in developing an atmospheric retrieval code targeted at the (possibly) cloudy atmospheres of L type brown dwarfs and directly imaged exoplanets, highlighting the challenges posed by this regime, the first applications to real examples and future opportunities for exoplanet applications.

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