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Wednesday, November 13, 2019
4:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Cahill, Hameetman Auditorium

Astronomy Colloquium

Exploring the Mysterious Origins of Super-Earths and Mini-Neptunes
Heather Knutson, Professor of Planetary Science, Geological and Planetary Sciences, California Institute of Technology,

Nearly a decade has passed since the discovery that planets with sizes intermediate between that of the Earth and Neptune ("super-Earths" or "mini-Neptunes", depending on their densities) dominate the observed population of close-in exoplanets. These planets have no solar system analogue, yet 30% of Sun-like stars appear to have at least one (and often more) interior to Mercury’s orbit. Did these planets form in situ, or did they migrate inward from a more distant formation location? Either way, the implications for our understanding of planet formation are bound to be significant. In my talk I will describe current efforts to address this question by characterizing the bulk densities and compositions of these planets and searching for outer gas giant companions.

For more information, please contact Judy McClain by phone at 626-395-4970 or by email at jlm@astro.caltech.edu.