Clouds and hazes are ubiquitous in the atmospheres of planets in our Solar System, and have now been found in exoplanet atmospheres as well. Clouds made up of rocks and metals, and hazes comprised of hydrocarbon soots and sulfurs block the spectral signatures of key atmospheric molecules. This impacts their brightness when seen in reflected and emitted light. In other words, not only do clouds and hazes prevent us from gaining knowledge of exoplanets' atmospheric composition, but they also strongly affect the way we interpret current and future direct imaging observations. Understanding exoplanet atmospheres requires that we also understand the behavior of these clouds and hazes. In his talk, Dr. Gao will discuss current efforts in modeling clouds and hazes in exoplanet atmospheres, with a focus towards the application of cloud physics in determining possible exoplanet cloud/haze distributions.
Dr. Gao holds a PhD in Planetary Sciences from the California Institute of Technology, where he did his thesis on Clouds and Hazes in Planetary Atmospheres. He earned an MS in Planetary Sciences, also from CalTech. Currently, Peter Gao is a NASA Postdoctoral Program Fellow at the NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, CA. Here, he performs research on modelling clouds and hazes on exoplanets and Brown Dwarfs, with applications to ongoing and future missions and observing campaigns.