Biosignatures & Paleobiology

Spectra as Windows into Exoplanet Atmospheres

By Keith Cowing
December 10, 2013
Filed under ,
Spectra as Windows into Exoplanet Atmospheres

Understanding a planet’s atmosphere is a necessary condition for understanding not only the planet itself, but also its formation, structure, evolution, and habitability.

This puts a premium on obtaining spectra, and developing credible interpretative tools with which to retrieve vital planetary information. However, for exoplanets these twin goals are far from being realized. In this paper, I provide a personal perspective on exoplanet theory and remote sensing via photometry and low-resolution spectroscopy.

Though not a review in any sense, this paper highlights the limitations in our knowledge of compositions, thermal profiles, and the effects of stellar irradiation, focussing on, but not restricted to, transiting giant planets. I suggest that the true function of the recent past of exoplanet atmospheric research has been not to constrain planet properties for all time, but to train a new generation of scientists that, by rapid trial and error, is fast establishing a solid future foundation for a robust science of exoplanets.

Adam Burrows (Submitted on 6 Dec 2013)

Comments: Accepted to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, as part of a Special Feature Edition on Exoplanets

Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)

Cite as: arXiv:1312.2009 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1312.2009v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)

Submission history From: Adam Burrows [v1] Fri, 6 Dec 2013 21:00:04 GMT (511kb)

Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) 🖖🏻