22 March 2018

Water found in atmosphere of exoplanet

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A pioneering new study has uncovered large amounts of water in the "primitive atmosphere" of an exoplanet, which is a similar size to Neptune. The discovery could help uncover how such planets formed, to provide insight into how other planets in galaxies across the universe. report citing to Sputnik with an atmosphere that's composed almost entirely of hydrogen and helium, with a relatively cloudless sky, the planet dubbed "Warm Neptune" — because it orbits its sun more closely than our own Solar System's Neptune — is 430 light years from Earth.

Despite the vast distance between us, thanks to NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, "Warm Neptune" was discovered in 2011.

Now, a team of international researchers, co-lead by Hannah Wakeford from NASA and Professor David Sing from the University of Exeter, has carried out a detailed study of "Warm Neptune."

What they found was that its primitive atmosphere suggests it was formed closer to its host sun, or later in its solar system development, compared to our solar system's icy gas giant Neptune.

This revelation could change how scientists think about the birth and development of planetary systems in other distant galaxies.

Professor Sing, from the University of Exeter's Astrophysics department said:

"This exciting new discovery shows that there is a lot more diversity in the atmospheres of these exoplanets than we have previously thought.

"This 'Warm Neptune' is a much smaller planet than those we have been able to characterize in depth, so this new discovery about its atmosphere feels like a big breakthrough in our pursuit to learn more about how solar systems are formed, and how it compares to our own."

It's a memorable moment for the scientists involved. Less memorable, or catchy, is the name they've assigned the planet: HAT-P-26b.

2017.05.12 / 22:59
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