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Highlights in the study of exoplanet atmospheres


Exoplanets are now being discovered in profusion. To understand their character, however, we require spectral models and data. These elements of remote sensing can yield temperatures, compositions and even weather patterns, but only if significant improvements in both the parameter retrieval process and measurements are made. Despite heroic efforts to garner constraining data on exoplanet atmospheres and dynamics, reliable interpretation has frequently lagged behind ambition. I summarize the most productive, and at times novel, methods used to probe exoplanet atmospheres; highlight some of the most interesting results obtained; and suggest various broad theoretical topics in which further work could pay significant dividends.

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Figure 1: Transit spectrum of giant exoplanet HD 189733b.
Figure 2: The transmission spectrum of GJ 1214b.
Figure 3: Transit depth spectrum of the hot Jupiter HD 209458b.
Figure 4: The measured light curve of υ Andromedae b.
Figure 5: Surface map of brown dwarf Luhman 16B.


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The author acknowledges support in part under Hubble Space Telescope grants HST-GO-12181.04-A, HST-GO-12314.03-A, HST-GO-12473.06-A, and HST-GO-12550.02 and Jet Propulsion Laboratory/Spitzer Agreements 1417122, 1348668, 1371432, 1377197 and 1439064.

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Correspondence to Adam S. Burrows.

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Burrows, A. Highlights in the study of exoplanet atmospheres. Nature 513, 345–352 (2014).

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