AAS Meeting #193 - Austin, Texas, January 1999
Session 97. Extra-Solar Planets and the Search for Life
Display, Saturday, January 9, 1999, 9:20am-4:00pm, Exhibit Hall 1

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[97.05] Direct Observations of Extrasolar Giant Planets with the Terrestrial Planet Finder

M. C. Turnbull, A. Burrows, N. H. Woolf (U. Arizona)

Unlike radial velocity or other indirect detections of extrasolar planets, direct detection eliminates ambiguities in planet masses and provides opportunities for studying the compositions of planet atmospheres and looking for signs of life. The Terrestrial Planet Finder (TPF) will use nulling interferometry in the wavelength region 7 to 20 microns to directly detect and obtain 0.5 micron resolution spectra of extrasolar terrestrial and giant planets. In this poster we explore the detectibility of extrasolar giant planets (EGPs) based on recent calculations of giant planet evolution.

The thermal emission of EGPs is expected to be detectable to the TPF even at very large distances. For example, a Jupiter-mass planet at an Earthlike temperature would be visible 11 times farther away than an Earth-mass planet, simply because of the difference in angular size. We present a series of giant planet models exploring their detectability at various masses and ages. Luminosity calculations and model spectra for the 7 to 20 micron region are shown in comparison to the projected sensitivity limits of TPF.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: turnbull@pegasus.as.arizona.edu

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