PAOC Colloquium: Julien de Wit (MIT)
|February 25th, 2019
Title: New Worlds, New Perspectives
Abstract: Exoplanets provide an unprecedented opportunity to sample the multi-dimensional spaces behind themes such as planetary system and planet formation. For centuries, our understanding of planetary systems has been based on observations of a unique sample, the Solar System. Since the first discovery of an exoplanet in 1995, over 3,900 exoplanets have been found in over 2,900 other systems; a sample size increase of three orders of magnitude that has already resulted in profound changes in our understanding of planetary systems. The arrival of high-throughput facilities (e.g., Kepler and TESS) have highlighted the need for standardized data acquisition/processing tools for exoplanet detection. The arrival of the next generation of observatories (e.g., JWST) may, however, require a mixed approach owing to the unparalleled increase in information content they will enable. In this talk, I will introduce examples of how we have leveraged in the past such information-content increase to gain new insights into exoplanets (e.g., map of an exoplanet atmosphere, direct measure of radiative and dynamical properties of an exoplanet atmosphere), discuss how we can build on this experience with the next generation of observatories, introduce upcoming challenges for the field, and consider how a mixed approach with machine learning could be leveraged to optimize the mining of such rich datasets while also enabling the assessment of the dimensionality and topology of the spaces explored.