When extrasolar planets are observed to transit their parent stars, we are granted unprecedented access to their physical properties. It is only for these systems that we are permitted direct estimates of the planetary masses and radii, which in turn provide fundamental constraints on models of their physical structure. Furthermore, such planets afford the opportunity to study the dynamics and chemistry of their atmospheres without the need to spatially isolate the light from the planet from that of the star. I will review the most recent results, and then outline the prospects for the ground-based detection of terrestrial exoplanets orbiting within their stellar habitable zones. If we can locate such planets transiting low-mass stars, then these same techniques may permit the search for biomarkers in their atmospheres.
American Astronomical Society Meeting Abstracts #212
- Pub Date:
- May 2008