National Weather Center Colloquium

Two classes of exoplanets identified without modeling

Joint Colloquium of the National Weather Center & OU's Department of Physics and Astronomy

Dr. Joseph Harrington
Planetary Sciences Group, Dept. of Physics, University of Central Florida

11 March 2014, 4:00 PM

National Weather Center, Room 1313
120 David L. Boren Blvd.
University of Oklahoma
Norman, OK

Reception @ 3:30 PM

The Spitzer Space Telescope has measured numerous eclipses of exoplanets, and ground-based telescopes and Hubble are now getting into the game. These measurements provide the planetary flux in the observation filter. In combination with the planetary radius, known from transit, one can determine a brightness temperature. This temperature is compared with the planet’s predicted equilibrium temperature calculated assuming zero albedo and uniform re-radiation of absorbed energy from the entire planetary surface. Measurements deviate from the simplistic equilibrium temperature prediction because of the chemistry and temperatures present in the atmosphere. Other effects like clouds may play important roles as well. By comparing brightness and equilibrium temperatures, and without reference to any interpretive model, two distinct classes of exoplanets have been identified: cooler exoplanets having similar brightness and equilibrium temperatures and hotter exoplanets with higher brightness temperature than equilibrium temperature. Differences between the cooler and hotter exoplanets in terms of thermal inversions, clouds, and competing radiative and convective time constants will be discussed.

Speaker bio

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National Weather Center Colloquium Seminar Series website