University of Minnesota
School of Physics & Astronomy

MN Institute for Astrophysics Colloquium

Friday, March 3rd 2017
Speaker: Andrew Mann, University of Texas - Austin
Subject: Tracing Planetary Evolution from Formation to Maturity
Candidate for the MIfA Assistant Professor position

Planets are not born in their final state; rather, they change significantly over their lifetimes. Understanding how planets evolve has been a central question since the discovery of the first exoplanets. The first few hundred million years are thought to be the most formative, but planets in this age range are also the most difficult to identify and characterize. Instead, research has focused on inferring the history of planets through patterns in the population of older systems. In this talk I will discuss how this paradigm is shifting, as novel search techniques and new missions have enabled our discovery of Earth- to Neptune-size planets as young as 10 Myr. These discoveries have altered our understanding of how planets migrate and lose atmosphere, but raise further questions about the physical drivers of these changes. The upcoming TESS mission will discover hundreds more young planets, including analogues of a young Earth. Combined with follow-up from NIR spectrographs (e.g., iLocater on LBT), the TESS sample will enable new tests of planet formation and evolution through population statistics. Eventually, JWST, LBT, and 30m-class telescopes can be used to study the atmospheres of young, rocky planets, providing unique insight into the history of potentially habitable planets.

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