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Chemical Characterization of Extrasolar Super-Earths

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr B.-O. Demory.

Recent advances in exoplanetary science are leading to unprecedented observations of super-Earths. The observed masses, radii, and temperatures of super-Earths provide constraints on their interior structures, geophysical conditions, as well as their atmospheric compositions. Some of the most recently detected super-Earths span a wide gamut of possible compositions, from super-Mercuries and lava planets to water worlds and carbon planets. In this talk, I will discuss joint constraints on the interior and atmospheric compositions of super-Earths and their formation environments using hybrid models of their interiors, non-gray atmospheres, and formation conditions. I will also present a systematic set of strategies to identify and observe potentially water-rich super-Earths that provide the best prospects for characterizing their atmospheres. In this regard, firstly, I will discuss some important factors that need to be taken into account while planning and interpreting observations of super-Earth radii and spectra. I will discuss how observations in different spectral bandpasses constrain different atmospheric properties of a super-Earth, including radius and temperature of the planetary surface as well as the mean molecular mass, the chemical composition and thermal profile of the atmosphere. Secondly, I will discuss the detectability of H2O -rich super-Earth atmospheres as a function of the planetary properties and stellar brightness. The implications of super-Earth compositions on the diversity of their geochemical and geophysical processes will also be presented. I will conclude with comments on new observational, theoretical, and experimental efforts that are required for detailed characterization of super-Earths.

This talk is part of the Exoplanet Meetings series.

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