In 1988 the first exoplanet was discovered orbiting Gamma Cephei A, although it was not until 2002 that the discovery was confirmed. The 1995 discovery of 51 Peg b, through Doppler velocity techniques, ushered in a new era of radial velocity discovery. The observation of the transit of HD 209458 b across the face of its parent star in 2000 foreshadowed the results of the Kepler mission, which has, since 2009, discovered thousands of exoplanets. The first images of an exoplanet in 2004 (2M1207b) and a family of exoplanets in 2008 (HR 8799) demonstrated the powerful ability of adaptive optics on large ground-based telescopes to spot massive exoplanets.
In parallel astronomers have developed techniques and tools for measuring the atmospheres and other characteristics of exoplanets, often using primary or secondary transits as an opportunity for differential spectrophotometry.
Theory can now be confronted with data, and the development of models and interpretation of the data have developed at a rapid pace in recent years.
With the ongoing introduction of new instruments, techniques and theoretical models, and the upcoming addition of extremely large telescopes like the GMT, the TMT, and the E-ELT, and new space missions like TESS, we can expect this boom in the enterprise of studying exoplanets to continue at a rapid pace, leading to a better understanding of our own place in the Universe. At the conference we will explore the following questions:
- What unique roles will ELTs play in precision radial velocity and direct imaging?
- What are the frontiers in determining the diversity of exoplanet atmospheric properties?
- What observable consequences are there of the interior properties of exoplanets?
- How can circumstellar disk observations provide clues to the properties of exoplanetary systems?
- How will planet formation theory benefit from ELT observations?
- What do we need to know or what can we observe about stars to understand exoplanets?
- What unique challenges and opportunities do ELTs present for future instrumentation for exoplanet characterization?