Spectroscopic characterization of exoplanet atmospheres
By studying the spectra of exoplanets, we can learn about the nature and composition of these worlds. By quantifying the abundances of various species, we can infer their compositions. Going to very high spectral resolution where we can resolve individual molecular lines, we can study the orbital motion and spin of these planets as well. Our team is developing cutting edge technology that allows us to perform high-resolution spectroscopy of Jovian exoplanets beyond the water ice line.
KPIC (the Keck Planet Imager and Characterizer) is the first instrument of its kind that combines high contrast imaging with high resolution spectroscopy to enable us to obtain spectra of faint exoplanets next to their host stars. KPIC is finishing its commissioning and the first science results are coming soon. Stay tuned!
HISPEC (High resolution Infrared Spectrograph for Exoplanet Characterization) is an upcoming diffraction limited spectrograph for Keck that builds upon the legacy of KPIC. In addition to the spectroscopy of Jovian exoplanets beyond the water ice line, it will also enable atmospheric spectroscopy of planets orbiting close to their host stars as well as indirectly detecting planets by radial velocity (the process of measuring the wobble of the host star as the planet tugs on it).