Seeing Through the Clouds: The Atmospheres of Super Earths and Sub-Neptunes (speaker: Caroline Morley, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics)

Date: 
Friday, April 7, 1:00pm
Location: 
54-517

EAPS Planetary Iunch Colloquium Series (PICS)
Note the special day and time: Friday at 1:00 PM

Dr. Caroline Morley, Sagan Fellow
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

Abstract:
Vast resources have been dedicated to characterizing the handful of planets with radii between Earth’s and Neptune’s that are accessible to current telescopes. Observations of their transmission spec- tra have been inconclusive and do not constrain the atmospheric composition. Of the small planets studied to date, all have radii in the near-IR consistent with being constant in wavelength, likely showing that these small planets are con- sistently enshrouded in thick hazes and clouds.

I will explore the types of clouds anhazes that can completely obscure transmission spectra. I will then show the effect that these thick clouds have on the thermal emission and reflected light spectra of small exoplanets. I present a path forward for understanding this class of small planets: by understanding the thermal emission and reflectivity of small planets, we can potentially break the degeneracies and better constrain the atmospheric compositions.

 

For more information, contact John Biersteker (jo22395@mit.edu)