Extrasolar Planets: September 2013

Chemical disequilibrium has recently become a relevant topic in the study of the atmospheres of of transiting extrasolar planets, brown dwarfs, and directly imaged exoplanets. We present a new way of assessing whether or not a Jovian-like atmosphere is in chemical disequilibrium from observations of detectable or inferred gases such as H$_2$O, CH$_4$, CO, and H$_2$.

Recent simulations have shown that the formation of planets in circumbinary configurations (such as those recently discovered by Kepler) is dramatically hindered at the planetesimal accretion stage.

The field of exoplanetary science has experienced a recent surge of new systems that is largely due to the precision photometry provided by the Kepler mission. The latest discoveries have included compact planetary systems in which the orbits of the planets all lie relatively close to the host star, which presents interesting challenges in terms of formation and dynamical evolution.

We describe and report first results from PALM-3000, the second-generation astronomical adaptive optics facility for the 5.1-m Hale telescope at Palomar Observatory.

With most planets and planetary candidates detected in the stellar habitable zone being super-Earths and gas giants, rather than Earth-like planets, we naturally wonder if their moons could be habitable.

'Most habitable worlds in the cosmos will have no remotely detectable signs of life' is proposed as a biological hypothesis to be tested in studies of exoplanets. Habitable planets could be discovered elsewhere in the Universe, yet there are many hypothetical scenarios whereby the search for life on them could yield negative results.

In today's mailing, Hogg et al. propose image modeling techniques to maintain 10-ppm-level precision photometry in Kepler data with only two working reaction wheels.

A large fraction of white dwarfs (WDs) may host planets in their habitable zones. These planets may provide our best chance to detect bio-markers on a transiting exoplanet, thanks to the diminished contrast ratio between the Earth-sized WD and its Earth-sized planets.

Observations of the Earth as a planet using the earthshine technique (i.e. looking at the light reflected from the darkside of the Moon), have been used for climate and astrobiology studies.

Astrometry is a powerful technique to study the populations of extrasolar planets around nearby stars. It gives access to a unique parameter space and is therefore required for obtaining a comprehensive picture of the properties, abundances, and architectures of exoplanetary systems.

We report our spectroscopic investigation of the transiting ice giant GJ 3470b's atmospheric transmission, and the first results of extrasolar planet observations from the new Keck/MOSFIRE spectrograph.

GJ3470b is a rare example of a "hot Uranus" transiting exoplanet orbiting a nearby M1.5 dwarf. It is of crucial interest for atmospheric studies because it is one of the most inflated low-mass planets known, bridging the boundary between "super-Earths" and Neptunian planets.