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New Frontiers for Terrestrial-sized to Neptune-sized Exoplanets In the Era of Extremely Large Telescopes

Wang, Ji and Meyer, Michael R. and Boss, Alan and Close, Laird and Currie, Thayne and Dragomir, Diana and Fortney, Jonathan and Gaidos, Eric and Hasegawa, Yasuhiro and Kitiashvili, Irina and Konopacky, Quinn and Lee, Chien-Hsiu and Lewis, Nikole K. and Liu, Michael and Lupu, Roxana and Mawet, Dimitri and Melis, Carl and López-Morales, Mercedes and Morley, Caroline V. and Packham, Chris and Peretz, Eliad and Skemer, Andy and Ulmer, Mel (2019) New Frontiers for Terrestrial-sized to Neptune-sized Exoplanets In the Era of Extremely Large Telescopes. Astro2020 Science White Paper, . (Unpublished)

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Surveys reveal that terrestrial- to Neptune-sized planets (1 <R< 4 R_(Earth)) are the most common type of planets in our galaxy. Detecting and characterizing such small planets around nearby stars holds the key to understanding the diversity of exoplanets and will ultimately address the ubiquitousness of life in the universe. The following fundamental questions will drive research in the next decade and beyond: (1) how common are terrestrial to Neptune-sized planets within a few AU of their host star, as a function of stellar mass? (2) How does planet composition depend on planet mass, orbital radius, and host star properties? (3) What are the energy budgets, atmospheric dynamics, and climates of the nearest worlds? Addressing these questions requires: a) diffraction-limited spatial resolution; b) stability and achievable contrast delivered by adaptive optics; and c) the light-gathering power of extremely large telescopes (ELTs), as well as multi-wavelength observations and all-sky coverage enabled by a comprehensive US ELT Program. Here we provide an overview of the challenge, and promise of success, in detecting and comprehensively characterizing small worlds around the very nearest stars to the Sun with ELTs. This white paper extends and complements the material presented in the findings and recommendations published in the National Academy reports on Exoplanet Science Strategy and Astrobiology Strategy for the Search for Life in the Universe.

Item Type:Report or Paper (White Paper)
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Paper
Wang, Ji0000-0002-4361-8885
Meyer, Michael R.0000-0003-1227-3084
Close, Laird0000-0002-2167-8246
Currie, Thayne0000-0002-7405-3119
Dragomir, Diana0000-0003-2313-467X
Fortney, Jonathan0000-0002-9843-4354
Gaidos, Eric0000-0002-5258-6846
Hasegawa, Yasuhiro0000-0002-9017-3663
Kitiashvili, Irina0000-0003-4144-2270
Konopacky, Quinn0000-0002-9936-6285
Lee, Chien-Hsiu0000-0003-1700-5740
Lewis, Nikole K.0000-0002-8507-1304
Liu, Michael0000-0003-2232-7664
Mawet, Dimitri0000-0002-8895-4735
Melis, Carl0000-0001-9834-7579
López-Morales, Mercedes0000-0003-3204-8183
Morley, Caroline V.0000-0002-4404-0456
Packham, Chris0000-0001-7827-5758
Skemer, Andy0000-0001-6098-3924
Group:Astronomy Department
Series Name:Astro2020 Science White Paper
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20190619-103543348
Persistent URL:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:96558
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:19 Jun 2019 18:22
Last Modified:09 Mar 2020 13:19

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