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New Frontiers in Exoplanet Characterization

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Exoplanet characterization is undergoing a rapid evolution, especially in the study of exoplanet atmospheres. I will discuss the very latest results from both space and ground-based observations and highlight how they are helping us to understand exoplanet origins and diversity. I will focus part of my talk on high-resolution spectroscopy, which is a robust and powerful tool in exoplanet characterization. It uses changes in the Doppler shift of a planet to disentangle its spectrum from the glare of its host star. The technique is sensitive to the depth, shape, and position of a planet’s spectral lines, and thus reveals information about the planet’s composition, atmospheric structure, mass, global wind patterns, and rotation. I will present MEASURE : the MMT Exoplanet Atmosphere SURvEy. This 40 night survey is the largest high-resolution study of exoplanet atmospheres to date. It contains spectra of exoplanets from hot Jupiters to warm Neptunes, both transiting and non-transiting, observing both their dayside and nightside thermal emission. I will describe the survey and present some of its exciting preliminary results. The survey not only enables a homogenous dataset to perform comparative exoplanetology, but provides complementary high-resolution spectra for exoplanets observed with HST and Spitzer. The combination of high- and low-resolution spectroscopy can provide stringent constraints on planet metallicity and C/O ratios, and signifies the next step in the detailed characterization of exoplanet atmospheres.

This talk is part of the Institute of Astronomy Colloquia series.

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