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Alastair Claringbold

I am a PhD student in the Astronomy and Astrophysics group at the University of Warwick, supervised by Peter Wheatley. I study the atmospheres of exoplanets using observations with infrared and optical telescopes, and physical and chemical modelling. My work focusses on the use of the low-resolution transmission spectroscopy technique to detect molecules, atoms, clouds, and hazes. I also use statistical inverse methods (retrievals) to extract this information from real or synthetic observations using parametric models. I am working on using more sophisticated physical models involving radiative-convective equilibrium and chemical kinetics to make deductions and predictions about exoplanet atmospheres as well.

My work focusses on the use of data from JWST and from LRG-BEASTS (using data from the EFOSC2 instrument on the NTT). I lead a JWST cycle 2 programme to observe a temperate Jupiter, and I'm also part of a BOWIE collaboration programme to investigate the relationship between chemical composition and orbital alignment of hot Jupiters. I also lead a NTT proposal to observe the planet LTT 9779b in the Neptune desert. In addition to my observational work, I am also leading a modelling project designed to support upcoming JWST observations of temperate Jupiters.

Research Interests

I have a strong theoretical interest in the physics and chemistry of planetary atmospheres, including photochemistry, dynamics, and cloud formation, particularly in temperate (Earth-adjacent temperatures e.g. 200-400 K) rocky planets and gas giants. I am particularly eager to detect and model interesting non-equilibrium chemistry in exoplanet atmospheres. One of my main research interests is the origin and detection of life, particularly the detectability of molecules associated with the origin of life (prebiosignatures), with modern and future telescopes including JWST and LIFE.

My previous work, undertaken during my integrated master's degree at the University of Cambridge, involved radiative transfer modelling of atmospheres containing prebiosignature molecules with JWST, and performing detection tests and full retrievals to estimate their detectability, under the supervision of Paul Rimmer and Sarah Rugheimer.

I am proficient with open-source software petitRADTRANS (to create synthetic transmission spectra and perform retrievals), HELIOS (to compute radiative-convective equilibrium), FastChem (to calculate chemical equilibrium), and VULCAN (to perform chemical kinetic modelling including photochemistry). I also developed the TriArc detection test pipeline built around petitRADTRANS forward modelling.


I demonstrate the A2: Astronomical Spectroscopy for 2nd year undergraduate students at the University of Warwick.


Write to:

Alastair Claringbold,
Department of Physics,
University of Warwick,
Coventry CV4 7AL

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