Institute of Astronomy

Know thy Star, Know thy Prebiotic Chemistry

SpeakerTalk DateTalk Series
Paul Rimmer (Cavendish)24 May 2018Institute of Astronomy Colloquia

Abstract

Abstract: "Know thy star, know thy planet" is an essential principle for
finding and characterizing planets. The host star needs to be understood in
detail in order to separate the planet from the star in radial velocity and
estimate its mass, or to estimate its radius from transits. It is important
to understand behavior and properties of star spots and other surface
features on the star in order to be able to definitively identify clouds and
molecular features in exoplanet atmospheres from their transmission spectra.
The star can also tell us about the history of a planet. The star can be
seen as an extreme end along a continuum, in temperature and formation
history, where small rocky planets occupy the other extreme end. Also, the
star's chemistry is connected to the disk chemistry, and disk chemistry and
dynamics will determine what sorts of planets will form, what they will be
made of, and what kinds of atmospheres they are likely to have. The
evolution of the star can have a lot to say about where liquid water can
exist stably over a large fraction of a planet’s surface: the liquid water
habitable zone, how that zone may change over time, and whether a planet in
this zone is likely to keep its atmosphere in the face of its host star's
activity.

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