LPL Colloquium: Dr. Nikku Madhusudhan

Tuesday, Apr 9, 2013
3:45 pm — 5:00 pm

Location: Kuiper Space Sciences
Room: 308

Dr. Nikku Madhusudhan
Postdoctoral Fellow
Yale University

Host: Ilaria Pascucci

Exoplanetary Atmospheres

Abstract:

Recent advances in exoplanet observations and theoretical methods are leading to unprecedented constraints on the physicochemical properties of exoplanetary atmospheres. Atmospheric properties derived from exoplanetary spectra provide critical clues regarding not only their chemical diversity and various atmospheric processes, but also their interior compositions and formation mechanisms. In this talk, I will present many of the latest results in this field, both in observations and theory, and will discuss the promising outlook for the future. I will present constraints on the elemental abundances, non-equilibrium chemistry, temperature inversions, atmospheric dynamics, and the presence of clouds/hazes, for a sizable ensemble of extrasolar planets---both transiting and directly imaged, and including gas giants, ice giants, and super-Earths. These constraints result from detailed theoretical modeling and interpretation of spectral data from extensive observational efforts using major ground-based and space-borne infrared instruments, a survey of which will be presented. I will also discuss how these atmospheric constraints are being used to develop new classification schemes for exoplanets, and to constrain conditions of their formation and subsequent evolution. The emerging picture of exoplanetary atmospheres and formation will be discussed vis-a-vis our understanding of planets in the solar system. The exciting prospects of characterizing exoplanetary atmospheres using current, upcoming, and future observational facilities will be discussed, along with several open questions of fundamental nature in the field.