Join us on Monday, February 5th for a talk from Claire Zurkowski, a postdoctoral researcher at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory!
Title: Mysteries beyond our solar system—Characterizing the mineralogical building blocks of multi-Earth mass exoplanets
Abstract: The NASA Exoplanet Exploration Program has currently confirmed over 5,500 exoplanets exhibiting a wide range of sizes and densities. Many of those identified thus far are categorized as super-Earth’s and sub-Neptunes, as they are larger than Earth and have an Earth-to-Neptune-like density. Exploring the interior structures of these rocky bodies and understanding their formation, evolution, and potential habitability requires experimental probes to ultrahigh pressures and temperatures and of diverse chemistries. In this talk, I will discuss applications of the laser-heated diamond anvil cell combined with synchrotron multigrain diffraction to explore deep planetary mineralogy: including, densification transitions in super-Earth mantles and the fate of inner core formation and dynamo generation in oxidized exoplanets. I will also touch on novel developments in designing toroidal diamond anvils that extend accessible pressures under static compression to super-Earth and sub-Neptune conditions. This work highlights information that mineral physics experiments can deliver to improve exoplanetary models and interpretations of exoplanetary observables.