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Next generation techniques to characterise exoplanetary atmospheres

Changeat, Quentin; (2021) Next generation techniques to characterise exoplanetary atmospheres. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

In the past decade, more than 4000 exoplanets have been discovered using a host of detection techniques. However, as of today, only a fraction of these planets have been studied in great detail. For about 60 planets, we start to have preliminary information about their atmospheric properties. Despite these successes, the spectroscopic analysis of exoatmospheres is still in its infancy and with the arrival of better performing instrumentation from space and the ground, it is now necessary to upgrade our modelling tools to maximise the science return of said future facilities. Currently, spectral retrieval models represent the most successful tools to extract the chemical, thermal and dynamical properties of extrasolar atmospheres. In this thesis, a full re-design of the well-established retrieval code TauREx is presented along with new feature extraction models, such as a state-of-the-art phase curve retrieval method. New tools, such as the Alfnoor algorithm, were also developed and used to enable the simultaneous study of a large population of objects, as opposed to individual planets. These new methods were used, in concert with other dedicated tools, to analyse and interpret current data of exoplanetary atmospheres recorded with the Hubble and Spitzer Space Telescopes. While providing new insights into exoplanets’ atmospheric properties, these analyses also demonstrate the limitations of current instruments. Next generation space telescopes, such as Ariel and JWST, will be revolutionary in providing thousands of high-quality exoplanetary spectra. The dramatic improvement of the data provided by these facilities will undoubtedly cause big challenges in the interpretation. This thesis addresses some of the expected challenges and paves the way to the design of future techniques, valid for the study of large atmospheric samples.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Next generation techniques to characterise exoplanetary atmospheres
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2021. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > Dept of Physics and Astronomy
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10122529
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