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Towards 3D-Mapping of Exoplanet Atmospheres

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Within two decades, the field of exoplanetology has broadened our perspective on planetary systems with more than 1800 planets found in over 1100 systems different from ours. Research priorities are now moving from planet detection to planet characterization. During this seminar, I introduce a method to map exoplanet atmospheres—while their host stars cannot be resolved. I discuss the degeneracies behind exoplanet mapping and present a framework to mitigate consistently their effects. I introduce two applications to the hot Jupiters HD189733b and Kepler-7b in the infrared and in the visible, respectively. Finally, I discuss the potential of the method to yield constraints on the 3D temperature, composition, and circulation patterns of a planet’s atmosphere in the near future. Before wrapping up, I briefly introduce a second method, MassSpec, that aims to determine the atmospheric properties of transiting exoplanets and their masses solely from their transmission spectra—their star’s light filtered by their atmospheres during transits. Within the next decade, MassSpec will be applicable to exoplanets as small as Earth, and hence will play a pivotal role in the identification of the first habitable exoplanet.

This talk is part of the Exoplanet Meetings series.

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