Ian Dobbs-Dixon (UW) gave a very nice informal talk at the blackboard today about planet migration and planetary atmospheres, prompted by questions out of the blue from various CCPP members (including myself). He placed exoplanet science in the realm of applied physics, which is a reasonable place, although I have been thinking that the subject also has some possible connections to very fundamental physics questions: In some sense it could eventually lead to understandings about the origin of life, which remains one of the great gaps in human knowledge. Dobbs-Dixon described asymmetries in hot Jupiters that could be created by the anisotropic insolation plus rotation; in principle the secondary eclipses measured by Spitzer (or something next-generation) might get asymmetric, especially at wavelengths where there is strong absorption by atmospheric elements. It's a small effect, but exoplanet science is the science of small effects; indeed that's why I am getting interested.

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