Planetary Science Seminar
As we move deeper into the era when direct imaging planet searches, like GPI and SPHERE, are discovering and characterizing new young giant planets, it is worthwhile to step back and review our science goals for young giant planets. Of course for individual planets we ideally would hope to measure mass, radius, atmospheric composition, temperature, and cloud properties, but how do these characteristics fit into our broader understanding of planetary system origin and evolution? In my presentation I will review both the specifics of what we hope to learn from newly discovered young worlds as well as how these characteristics inform our broader understanding of giant planets and planetary systems. I will illustrate with a case study of 51 Eri b, the young giant planet discovered last year by GPI, including a discussion of the possible roles of clouds and photochemical hazes play in shaping its observed spectrum. Finally I will look to the future and highlight the opportunities that will be afforded by future ground and space-based exoplanet imaging instruments.