The Energy Balance Of Short-Period Planets (speaker: Nicolas Cowan, McGill University)

Tuesday September 22, 2015 4:00 pm
Marlar Lounge (37-252)

What started as a trickle in the mid 1990’s is now a torrent, with over one thousand extrasolar planets currently known, and thousands of candidates awaiting confirmation. The study of exoplanets has already revolutionized our view of planet formation, and will soon do the same to our understanding of planetary atmospheres and interiors. Since we view them from the top-down, one of the first aspects of exoplanet atmospheres to be constrained is their global thermal emission.  By combining infrared emission measurements at a variety of orbital phases, we can infer a planet’s Bond albedo, the efficiency of its day-night heat transport, and, in the case of planets subject to seasons, its thermal inertia. Multi-wavelength emission measurements can also constrain a planetary atmosphere’s composition and vertical temperature structure. Such inferences are particularly sensitive to the uncertainty in emission measurements, however, and the accuracy of eclipse measurements has typically been over-stated. Fortunately, improved analysis techniques and next-generation instruments should allow us to resolve outstanding questions about hot Jupiters, and to extend our methods to temperate terrestrial planets.

Talk Host: Nevin Weinberg


additional information about Nicolas Cowan