Extrasolar Weather and Dust: on the Occurrence of Great Red Spots and Asteroid Belts

The detection of global weather phenomena in irradiated extrasolar hot Jupiters has provided tremendous insights into their atmospheric structure. Non-irradiated substellar atmospheres probe weather in an entirely different regime, where global atmospheric flows result primarily from a combination of rapid rotation and internal convection – e.g., as in the atmosphere of Jupiter – rather than from external forcing. Isolated brown dwarfs are ideal targets for such investigations because they possess planet-like atmospheric dynamics, yet have greater intrinsic brightness and lack nearby bright stars to contaminate observations. I will review the study of clouds and weather phenomena in brown dwarf atmospheres, and will present findings that large atmospheric features analogous to Jupiter’s Great Red Spot are ubiquitous in cool substellar atmospheres.


I will also present an update on the occurrence of asteroid belts around solar neighborhood stars, from a recently completed study on WISE. Together with the direct characterization of exoplanetary atmospheres, resolved imaging of the frost lines and terrestrial zones of nearby planetary systems offers exciting prospects for the current generation of extreme-contrast imaging facilties.

Cody Hall

Stanimir Metchev (The University of Western Ontario)

January 30, 2015
14:00 - 15:00