Weekly Space Hangout: September 14, 2022 — The Geology of Exoplanets with Dr. Paul Byrne

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The first suspected exoplanet was identified back in 1988, and was then confirmed in 1992. Since then, the rate at which detection/confirmations have been made has been increasing. And JWST has already directly imaged its first exoplanet! What data are we able to gather from here on Earth? What are we able to learn about these planets from the data collected? How does exoplanet geology compare with our own geology here on Earth? Let’s find out as we welcome planetary geologist Dr. Paul Byrne, to the WSH.

Paul Byrne received his B.A. in geology, and Ph.D. in planetary geology, from Trinity College Dublin, Ireland. He was a MESSENGER postdoctoral fellow at the Earth and Planets Laboratory of the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, DC, and an LPI postdoctoral fellow at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, Texas. He is an Associate Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis; before coming to WashU, he was an assistant and then associate professor at North Carolina State University.

Paul’s research focuses on comparative planetary geology—comparing and contrasting the surfaces and interiors of planetary bodies, including Earth, to understand geological phenomena at the systems level. Byrne’s research projects span the solar system from Mercury to Pluto and, increasingly, to the study of extrasolar planets. He uses remotely sensed data, numerical and physical models, and fieldwork in analogue settings on Earth to understand why planets look the way they do.

Be sure to follow Paul on Twitter.

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