Raissa Estrela (JPL): "Unveiling the Atmospheres of Exoplanets: Exploring Detection, Evolution, and Habitability"


The discovery of planets orbiting bright stars by the TESS mission, along with the upcoming generation of high-resolution telescopes and JWST, is expected to open an unprecedented era for characterizing exoplanet atmospheres. In this presentation, I will highlight current efforts based on spectroscopic observations taken with the Hubble Space Telescope across a substantial catalog of planets. These efforts aim to identify systematic trends in clouds and hazes, which significantly impact the detection of atmospheric spectral features and hold the potential to provide crucial insights into the climate of these planets. Furthermore, I will delve into a population-based analysis of observed small exoplanets (< 3R_Earth) to gain a deeper understanding of the evolution and erosion of their atmospheres. I will explore the relationships between their radius, insolation, and density and track how their atmospheric envelopes evolve due to the XUV radiation from their host stars. Lastly, I will discuss the importance of identifying the existence of a secondary or residual primordial envelope as a pivotal factor in assessing potential habitability and anticipating the forthcoming detection of rocky planet atmospheres in the coming decade.

Date: 12:15 PM, November 15th, 2023
Location: MR-102 and online (Zoom), please join the Caltech/IPAC Seminar Mailing list at to obtain more information
Category: Science Talk