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Modeling of Exoplanet Atmospheres

Mollière, Paul Maurice

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Spectrally characterizing exoplanet atmospheres will be one of the fastest moving astronomical disciplines in the years to come. Especially the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) will provide spectral measurements from the near- to mid-infrared of unprecedented precision. With other next generation instruments on the horizon, it is crucial to possess the tools necessary for interpretating observations. To this end I wrote the petitCODE, which solves for the self-consistent atmospheric structures of exoplanets, assuming chemical and radiative-convective equilibrium. The code includes scattering, and models clouds. The code outputs the planet’s observable emission and transmission spectra. In addition, I constructed a spectral retrieval code, which derives the full posterior probability distribution of atmospheric parameters from observations. I used petitCODE to systematically study the atmospheres of hot jupiters and found, e.g., that their structures depend strongly on the type of their host stars. Moreover, I found that C/O ratios around unity can lead to atmospheric inversions. Next, I produced synthetic observations of prime exoplanet targets for JWST, and studied how well we will be able to distinguish various atmospheric scenarios. Finally, I verified the implementation of my retrieval code using mock JWST observations.

Document type: Dissertation
Supervisor: Henning, Prof. Dr. Thomas
Place of Publication: Heidelberg
Date of thesis defense: 12 July 2017
Date Deposited: 02 Aug 2017 06:37
Date: 2017
Faculties / Institutes: The Faculty of Physics and Astronomy > Dekanat der Fakultät für Physik und Astronomie
Service facilities > Max-Planck-Institute allgemein > MPI for Astronomy
DDC-classification: 520 Astronomy and allied sciences
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