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Physics and Astronomy Colloquium – Andrew Mann
February 22 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
UNC-CH Physics and Astronomy Colloquium
Andrew Mann, Columbia University
“Tracing Planetary Evolution from Infancy to Maturity”
Planets are not born in their final state; before reaching a more mature and stable phase, young planets are significantly altered and reshaped by their environment. The first few hundred million years are thought to be the most formative, but planets in this age range are also the most difficult to identify and characterize. Instead, research has focused on inferring the history of exoplanets through patterns in the population of older systems. I will discuss how this paradigm is shifting, as novel search techniques and new missions have enabled the discovery of Earth- to Jupiter-sized planets, some as young as 10 Myr. These discoveries have altered our understanding of how planets migrate and lose atmosphere, but raise further questions about the physical drivers of these changes. New missions will broaden the sample of young planets and enable detailed studies of the structures and atmospheres of infant planets, and providing more detailed answers on the underlying physical drivers of exoplanet evolution. In this talk I will review these important recent discoveries, and discuss new directions for research into exoplanet evolution, highlighting the unique role UNC researchers and facilities can play.