Seeing Through The Clouds: The Atmospheres Of Super Earths And Sub-Neptunes (speaker: Caroline Morley, Harvard-Smithsonian Center For Astrophysics)

Friday April 7, 2017 1:00 pm

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

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 (