Exoplanets in the SHREK Era

Thu, Mar 3, 2016 at 4:00 pm

1 LeConte Hall

Andrew Howard (Hawaii)

Earth-size exoplanets and their slightly larger ‘super-Earth’ cousins are the most abundant planets orbiting close to Sun-like stars.  These planets have diverse physical compositions, unusual atmospheres, and poorly understood origins.  My talk will start by tracing the discovery and early characterization of these small worlds.  I will then focus on SHREK, a Doppler spectrometer in development for Keck Observatory.  SHREK will measure the mass distribution of cool, Earth-size planets discovered by Kepler to determine whether they are commonly rocky or gas-dominated.  SHREK will also be a powerful probe of the diversity of planets from TESS, will discover and characterize planets to be observed by JWST and WFIRST, and will be a workhorse high-resolution spectrometer for the Keck community.