Two Talks at Extreme Solar Systems III

A few weeks ago, the year's largest conference in extrasolar planets took place on The Big Island of Hawaii: Extreme Solar Systems III.  The ExSS meetings take place every 4 years or so, with hundreds of scientists joining together to discuss the latest discoveries and theories in the field of exoplanets.  Our group had a good showing at the conference, with both myself and Dr. Bryce Croll presenting recent papers as talks.

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The Pololū Valley on the north shore of The Big Island, Hawaii.

Much of the meeting was focused on discoveries by the latest state-of-the-art planet hunters: NASA’s K2 Mission, The Gemini Planet Imager, SPHERE, and results from a relatively new mode of the Hubble Space Telescope enabling detailed investigations of planet atmospheres.

I gave a talk about our paper earlier this year concerning compact multiple exoplanetary systems orbiting small stars.  I argued that these systems are important because they stretch the limits of planet formation: the smallest stars likely have the smallest protoplanetary disks, yet they also have an abundance of rocky planets.  Could planet formation be more efficient for these systems?

Bryce gave an entirely different talk concerning the recent discovery of one (or several) 
disintegrating minor planets orbiting a white dwarf, discovered by our colleague Andrew Vanderburg and his collaborators.  Bryce’s talk concerned his own investigations of the system, which provide a different interpretation for the role of planetesimals and dust in creating the observed signal.  We will do a dedicated blog post on Bryce's paper when it is officially published.

All in all it was a great meeting, with many exiting results presented!  As several presenters noted, the next ExSS meeting will take place after NASA’s TESS and JWST Missions are launched.  Together, the missions are expected to find and investigate the atmospheres of small planets orbiting small stars: right up our alley!

-Phil Muirhead