Department of Astronomy Center for Radiophysics & Space Research

“The Josephine Lawrence Hopkins Foundation Colloquium” - Fingerprints of Other Worlds: Exoplanet Atmospheres at High Spectral Resolution

1Thursday, Dec. 1
Jayne Birkby, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
4:00 pm, 105 Space Sciences Bldg.

High resolution spectroscopy allows the direct detection of molecular features in an exoplanet atmosphere, and does not require the planet to transit its host star. In this talk, I will discuss how this method is unlocking our understanding of the chemical composition of exoplanet atmospheres, including their C/O ratios, which may ultimately by able to constrain the formation mechanism and birth location of giant planets in protoplanetary disks. The technique also enables us to study the dynamics of exoplanet atmospheres and I will show examples of measured winds speeds and rotation in giant planets. Combining high resolution spectroscopy with high contrast imaging not only enables the study of widely separated planets, but may be our only way to characterize the atmosphere of the habitable zone planet orbiting Proxima Centauri. I will discuss how we can use the next generation telescopes, the TMT, GMT, and E-ELT, to hunt for biomarkers in Proxima b and study the atmospheres of other rocky worlds in the Solar neighbourhood.

Image Gallery
Artists Impression Of Proxima Centauri B Shown Hypothetically As An Arid Rocky Super-earth Jayne 2