From statistics to individual characterization of exoplanets
Jean-Michel Desert



The field of exoplanetary science has changed gear from the investigation of individual objects to statistical studies. In this talk, I discuss both the statistical approach of planetary detection and the individual characterization of their atmospheres. The Kepler mission has revealed an extraordinary and unprecedented number of small exoplanet candidates. However, a fundamental question remains about the overwhelmingly large sample of Kepler candidates: are these objects really bona-fide planets? I will discuss methods that we are employing to tackle this problem. Answers to key questions about exoplanet science come not only from statistics, but also from individual characterization. Observations of their atmospheres are the only effective way at present to address the composition of exoplanets quantitatively and, by necessity, remotely. I present ongoing comparative exoplanetology programs to characterize planetary systems transiting nearby stars through the observations of their atmospheres. These projects provide powerful insights into the formation and evolution of planetary systems in general and enhances our understanding of our own Solar System's formation. I also discuss the prospect of probing rocky exoplanet atmospheres orbiting in the habitable zone of their parent stars with future facilities.