Department of Physics & Astronomy
University of New Mexico

Special Seminar

The Nature And Demographics of Small Exoplanets

Presented by Dr. Diana Dragomir (MIT)

One of the most significant recent discoveries in the exoplanet field is that planets smaller than Neptune are more common than larger ones in our galaxy. These planets can theoretically have a wide range of compositions which we are just beginning to explore observationally. Meaningful constraints on their atmospheres, masses and radii - and thus their density and composition - are generally feasible only for those planets that transit bright, nearby stars. I will present the small ensemble of known sub-Neptune exoplanets that are amenable to mass measurements and atmospheric characterization. I will discuss what we have learned about these systems until now, and how they inform our understanding of this population of exoplanets. I will conclude by describing how the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), due to launch this month, will revolutionize this understanding by significantly increasing the number of known small exoplanets orbiting nearby stars. This new ensemble of well-characterized small exoplanets can then be statistically leveraged to uncover new trends and gain deeper insights into their composition, and ultimately their formation. 

2:00 pm, Thursday, April 19, 2018
Room 190, Physics & Astronomy
Northeast corner of Lomas and Yale, Albuquerque, New Mexico

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