DR. CAROLINE MORLEY
A LITTLE ABOUT ME
I am currently an Assistant Professor at UT Austin studying exoplanet atmospheres of all shapes and sizes.
I simulate the atmospheres of planets using theoretical models, in order to measure the properties of atmospheres from afar, including terrestrial planets, super Earths, gas giants, brown dwarfs, and everything in between.
The Neptune-mass GJ 436b is one of the most studied transiting exoplanets with repeated measurements of its thermal emission and transmission spectra. We build on previous studies to answer outstanding questions about this planet, including its potentially high metallicity and tidal heating of its interior.
Planets larger than Earth and smaller than Neptune are some of the most numerous in the galaxy, but observational efforts to understand this population have proved challenging because optically thick clouds or hazes at high altitudes obscure molecular features. We present models of super Earths that include thick clouds and hazes and predict their transmission, thermal emission, and reflected light spectra. Despite the dearth of features observed in super Earth transmission spectra to date, different observations will provide rich diagnostics of their atmospheres.
The formation of clouds affects brown dwarf and planetary atmospheres of nearly all effective temperatures. For brown dwarfs below 450 K, water condenses in the upper atmosphere to form ice clouds. Currently, over a dozen objects in this temperature range have been discovered, and few previous theoretical studies have addressed the effect of water clouds on brown dwarf or exoplanetary spectra. Here we present a new grid of models that include the effect of water cloud opacity.
NEGLECTED CLOUDS IN T AND Y DWARF ATMOSPHERES
As brown dwarfs cool, a variety of species condense in their atmospheres, forming clouds. Iron and silicate clouds shape the emergent spectra of L dwarfs, but these clouds dissipate at the L/T transition. A variety of other condensates are expected to form in cooler T dwarf atmospheres. These include Cr, MnS, Na2S, ZnS, and KCl, but the opacity of these optically thinner clouds has not been included in previous atmosphere models. Here, we examine their effect on model T and Y dwarf atmospheres.