Detecting and Characterising Exoplanets with Direct Imaging

Astronomy Unit Seminars
Dr Beth Biller (U. Edinburgh)
Richard Nelson
November 28th, 2014 at 14:30
GO Jones Room 610

Direct detection, and direct spectroscopy in particular, have great potential for advancing our understanding of extrasolar planets. In combinations with other methods of planet detection, direct imaging and spectroscopy will allow us to eventually: 1) fully map out the architecture of typical planetary systems and 2) study the physical properties of exoplanets (colors, temperatures, etc.) in depth. I will discuss in particular the constraints on the distributions of wide giant exoplanets placed by the current generation of direct imaging surveys. Variability attributed to cloud structure already appears to be a persistent feature for L and T type field brown dwarfs, potentially due to the breakup of thick silicate and iron condensate clouds during the L to T spectral type transition. Directly imaged planets occupy the same temperature regime as L and T type brown dwarfs and are likely to be equally variable. I will also discuss the prospects for detecting and characterising exoplanet weather patterns through monitoring the intrinsic photometric variability of these objects.