Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Observations of Exoplanet Atmospheres

Observations of Exoplanet Atmospheres




Detailed characterization of an extrasolar planet's atmosphere provides the best hope for distinguishing the makeup of its outer layers, and the only hope for understanding the interplay between initial composition, chemistry, dynamics & circulation, and disequilibrium processes. In recent years, some areas have seen rapid progress while developments in others have come more slowly and/or have been hotly contested. This article gives an observer's perspective on the current understanding of extrasolar planet atmospheres prior to the considerable advances expected from the next generation of observing facilities. Atmospheric processes of both transiting and directly-imaged planets are discussed, including molecular and atomic abundances, cloud properties, thermal structure, and planetary energy budgets. In the future we can expect a continuing and accelerating stream of new discoveries, which will fuel the ongoing exoplanet revolution for many years to come.

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