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A Trio of Multiplanet Systems and Pathways to Habitable Worlds

Presentation #342.01 in the session Newton Lacy Pierce Prize Lecture.

Published onJun 29, 2022
A Trio of Multiplanet Systems and Pathways to Habitable Worlds

We are living in an extremely exciting era for exoplanet science: astronomers have detected nearly 5000 confirmed planets and we have begun to understand the links between stellar properties, planet compositions, system architectures, and formation histories. Recognizing the compelling nature of the quest for other worlds, the Astro2020 Decadal Survey selected “Worlds and Suns in Context” as the first theme in their scientific vision for the next decade. In my talk, I will review progress along the pathways to habitable worlds and discuss the bright future of exoplanet science. I will begin by reviewing our understanding of planetary demographics and compositions. Next, I will take the audience on a tour of three intriguing multi-planet systems: K2-136, TOI-1246, and HIP 41378. K2-136 is a member of the Hyades open cluster and harbors three transiting sub-Neptunes, and TOI-1246 is a K dwarf hosting four transiting sub-Neptunes. I will present mass measurements for the middle planet in the K2-136 system (K2-136 c) and all four transiting planets in the TOI-1246 system, thereby adding K2-136 c to the sample of young planets with precise mass measurements and TOI-1246 to the small sample of systems for which masses and radii have been measured for at least four planets. HIP 41378 is a bright Sun-like star hosting at least five transiting planets. I will present our mass measurements for all five planets and our HST/WFC3 transmission spectrum of the outermost planet HIP 41378 f, a long-period, Saturn-sized world with an extremely low bulk density. Finally, I will conclude by looking towards the future and discussing the transformational science that will be driven by the recent launch of JWST and the upcoming launch of Roman; the dawn of new ground-based facilities; and the development of a large IR/O/UV space telescope capable of searching for potentially Earth-like planets in the habitable zones of over a hundred Sun-like stars.

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