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Exoplanet Imaging — Studying Clouds on Other Worlds with Polarimetry

Presentation #344.08 in the session “Exoplanets 1”.

Published onJan 11, 2021
Exoplanet Imaging — Studying Clouds on Other Worlds with Polarimetry

Among the thousands of exoplanets that have been detected, only a select few dozen have been directly imaged. Because direct imaging allows us to take a spectrum of a planet’s atmosphere, it allows us to obtain new information crucial to our understanding of a planet, such as the composition of the clouds that often envelop the planet. Clouds can also polarize exoplanets’ thermal emission. A newly-developing instrument for exoplanet imaging named the Santa Cruz Array of Lenslets for Exoplanet Spectroscopy (SCALES) will possibly provide us with signal-to-noise ratios high enough for us to be able to detect the predicted 1% linear polarization signal due to clouds. In this poster, we present signal-to-noise ratios of known directly-imaged exoplanets when observed by SCALES. There are constraints to which already discovered exoplanets must abide by to be observable by SCALES. If the exoplanet fits within these conditions, then we will utilize evolutionary models to determine the planet’s probable luminosity based on its age and mass. This project’s results yield the potential to pave the way to new findings and discoveries that could very well alter our conclusions we’ve made about the universe and it’s variety of astronomical bodies.


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