Abstract: Over the past two decades thousands of exoplanets with an extraordinary diversity of properties have been discovered. Explaining how gas giant analogs to Jupiter and Saturn form has proven challenging. Basic questions remain about how quickly rocky cores grow in different locations, how they accrete substantial envelopes, if some gas giants form via gravitational instability, and how and to what extent they migrate. Gas giants also dominate the dynamics of their systems, affecting the transport of planetary building blocks to the inner disk and pushing smaller planets around. To explain the observed diversity of exoplanet systems, we must understand how gas giants form and evolve.
In this talk I will describe my work that focuses on two fundamental questions: 1) When and how do gas giants form? 2) How do gas giants shape the formation and evolution of smaller planets? I will discuss how using a range of observational techniques to measure properties like planetary rotation rates, obliquities, and atmospheric compositions provide new insights into the physics of gas giant formation. I will also talk about how searches for Jupiter analogs in systems with known inner planets reveal the impact they have on inner architectures of planetary systems. Finally, I will highlight the key role that next generation instruments and telescopes such as the GMT/TMT will play by extending these novel observations to entirely new classes of planets.