Wednesday 24 Mar 2021: The Peril and Promise of Three-Dimensional Planets
Emily Rauscher -
Remote seminar 14:00-15:00
Much to the consternation of spherical cows everywhere, planets are three-dimensional objects. As we try to measure properties of their atmospheres, it may be inappropriate to pretend that all regions of the planet have the same temperature and composition. In fact, we may trick ourselves and retrieve biased values when we use 1-D models to interpret atmospheric characterization measurements. This is particularly true for the high signal-to-noise type of exoplanet known as “hot Jupiters” because of the intense stellar heating they receive on their permanent day sides. In this talk, I will discuss how we can turn this challenge into an opportunity, using 3-D models of exoplanet atmospheres to uncover the influence of complex physics in different types of observations and thereby empirically constrain the inherently 3-D structure of these planets. The necessity of a 3-D approach to exoplanet atmospheric characterization will only increase as we move into the era of JWST and Extremely Large Telescopes, promising a future of exquisitely detailed measurements.