Colloquium

Frontiers in Exoplanetary Science

In the past two decades, the study of exoplanets has exploded providing us with a catalog of thousands of worlds. The majority of these objects are gaseous planets (R>2REarth) found at short orbital periods (P<50 days), as a result of detection biases. Typically, our knowledge of each planet rarely extends beyond imprecise basic parameters. A great wealth of discoveries remain unmet for this young field, such as the statistical uniqueness of the Earth, the discovery of alien moons, detailed remote sensing of atmospheres and a cogent understanding of system architectures and formation. In my talk, I will spend the first half discussing work I have led to measure the occurrence rate of exomoons, which directly impacts the assessment of our uniqueness, as well as potentially opening up an entire new sub-field of astronomical endeavor. I will highlight the enormous opportunities for data-intensive science with respect to not just exomoons, but a breadth of photometry-based science, as a result of recent NASA/ESA mission selections and open-data policies. In the second half of my talk, I will expand upon these ideas, offering several 'pop' presentations of new directions I intend to work on in the coming years, to give the audience a taste of the enormous potential for groundbreaking discoveries and the frontiers of this field. In the long view of astronomy, the study of exoplanets is in its formative years, with a remarkable range of unanswered questions calling out to the current and future generations of astronomers.

Followed by wine and cheese in Pupin 1402.

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