Forward Models of Exoplanetary Atmospheres

Lead Research Organisation: University of Cambridge
Department Name: Institute of Astronomy


My research has just begun into looking at the atmospheres of exoplanets; how we are able to observe them, and how we can extract the complex dynamics and chemistry from the spectra. It will be focused on emission spectroscopy of these planets, so that we can better understand what these worlds are like using secondary eclipse and direct imaging data. I have begun learning about how radiation and hydrodynamics have a key role to play in the emission from an atmosphere. I am currently working on current modelling techniques, and how they can be used to extract planetary properties in the most efficient way possible. From this, we can look into formation of these planetary systems and how they may have evolved over time.

We may in the next few years be able to detect the atmospheres for planets other than hot giant planets; these will have completely different compositions and chemistry, possibly even similar to our own planet. With the arrival of the James Webb telescope, we will be able to peer into the atmospheres much more closely and work out more about what this means for us. Detection of non-equilibrium compositions (such as the presence of oxygen on Earth) could mean other life on these planets, and/or very interesting geology. The overall goal of exoplanet atmosphere research is to answer some of the most important questions to us, such as are there other planets that we could live on, and is there other life in the universe.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ST/N503988/1 01/10/2015 30/09/2020
1638207 Studentship ST/N503988/1 01/10/2015 31/03/2019 Sid Gandhi