The Increasing Complexity of Exoplanet Atmospheres

Thu, March 19, 2015

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 While there are now many types of exoplanets that have been discovered, the "hot Jupiter" class remains a focus for observers and theorists alike. This partly because these are inherently interesting objects, completely unlike anything in our solar system, but also because these are the best targets for atmospheric characterization. The atmospheric properties of bright transiting planets are currently being probed by multiple instruments using impressive observational techniques; however, while the data are becoming more constraining, our theoretical picture of these planets is only becoming more complex. This is both because of the recognition of additional physical processes that must be accounted for the in the models, but also because of our increased appreciation of the inherent uncertainties in our models and their input parameters. I will discuss the development of 3D atmospheric models and review our current state of understanding. Based on current and future instrumental capabilities, I will then discuss some of the ways that we can hope to combine multiple types of observations in order to more confidently tease out the detailed physical properties of exoplanets.