Spectra as windows into exoplanet atmospheres

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations

Abstract

Understanding a planet's atmosphere is a necessary condition for understanding not only the planet itself, but also its formation, structure, evolution, and habitability. This requirement puts a premium on obtaining spectra and developing credible interpretative tools with which to retrieve vital planetary information. However, for exoplanets, these twin goals are far from being realized. In this paper, I provide a personal perspective on exoplanet theory and remote sensing via photometry and low-resolution spectroscopy. Although not a review in any sense, this paper highlights the limitations in our knowledge of compositions, thermal profiles, and the effects of stellar irradiation, focusing on, but not restricted to, transiting giant planets. I suggest that the true function of the recent past of exoplanet atmospheric research has been not to constrain planet properties for all time, but to train a new generation of scientists who, by rapid trial and error, are fast establishing a solid future foundation for a robust science of exoplanets.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12601-12609
Number of pages9
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume111
Issue number35
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General

Keywords

  • Characterization
  • Planetary science

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