Seminario: Kevin France (University of Colorado at Boulder), Aula ore 12

1 December 2023 @ 12:00 – 13:00

Speaker: Kevin France (University of Colorado at Boulder)

Title:  Exploring Extreme Exoplanets and Stellar Activity with Small Satellite Missions

Abstract: Atmospheric escape is a process that affects the structure, composition, and evolution of many planets.  Atmospheric escape rates depend critically on the extreme-ultraviolet (EUV) and far-ultraviolet (FUV) photon fluxes from the host star.  Owing to high levels of EUV and FUV irradiance from their nearby parent stars, the signatures of rapid atmospheric escape are detectable on close-in, gaseous exoplanets transiting bright stars.  In this talk, I will present current and future small satellite missions designed to directly observe atmospheric escape from exoplanets and to investigate the EUV luminosity and energy partition of EUV flares on nearby stars. The majority of the talk will focus on the Colorado Ultraviolet Transit Experiment (CUTE), a 6U CubeSat mission designed to take advantage of the near-ultraviolet (250 – 330 nm) stellar brightness distribution to conduct novel observations of the extended atmospheres of nearby close-in planets.  CUTE is NASA’s first dedicated exoplanet spectroscopy mission and has collected 6 – 11 transits of each of seven short-period exoplanets.  I will present an overview of the CUTE mission, including its development path and on-orbit observations of excess NUV absorption on ultra-hot Jupiters.  I will conclude the talk by describing the upcoming Monitoring Activity from Nearby sTars with uv Imaging and Spectroscopy (MANTIS) mission, a 12U CubeSat that will make simultaneous observations of nearby stars in four spectral bands from the EUV through the optical (~10 – 1000 nm).  MANTIS will conduct two surveys over its planned two-year mission lifetime: deep EUV observations of nearby stars and contemporaneous stellar characterization data in support of James Webb Space Telescope exoplanet spectroscopy observations.