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Astrophysics Luncheon Seminar

Metastable Helium is a Gift to Exoplanet Science
Presented by Jessica Spake
University of Exeter

Monday, June 4, 2018
12:00 noon in 169-336

Abstract
Helium is the second most abundant element in the universe and is a major constituent of Solar System giant planets. Early models predicted helium to be readily detectable on exoplanets, particularly those with extended and escaping atmospheres, but it remained elusive until recently. I'll demonstrate that measurements of exoplanetary metastable helium absorption via the 10830-Angstrom line are achievable with currently and imminently available telescopes. I'll also discuss how we can use 10830A measurements to answer questions like: how efficiently do stars strip away planetary atmospheres? What are the shapes of planetary winds? How long can temperate, Earth-sized planets around M-dwarfs retain their atmospheres?

JPL Contact: Tiffany Kataria (3-4935)

About the Speaker
Jessica Spake graduated from Imperial College London with a BS in physics, then found new exoplanets with the WASP team at Warwick (UK) during while earning her Master's degree. Currently, she is a 3rd year PhD student at Exeter (UK), where she studies low-density exoplanet atmospheres, mainly with the Hubble Space Telescope.


SVCP Astrophysics


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