New: Me speaking with Seth Shostak about exoplanets on Big Picture Science.
I am a planetary scientist that works to understand planets as classes of astrophysical objects. My current research is on modeling planetary atmospheres, interiors, and thermal evolution. Exciting exoplanet observations are happening on two fronts: the close-in transiting planets that can be studied with space-based and ground-based telescopes, and the young warm Jupiter-class planets far from their parent stars, which can be directly imaged.
In my work on exoplanets I make connections between these distant planets, which we are just beginning to understand, and our solar system's planets, for which we have abundant data and a long history of research. However, there are classes of planets that astronomers are finding, like "Super Earths," that have no analogue in the solar system! These exciting fields will continue to expand, fueled by ground-based observations, space missions, and new modeling efforts.