Atmosphere of an exoplanet relatively close to Earth in space terms is in the spotlight
Scientists have announced that a wonderful planet can reveal the secrets of many cosmic formations after water vapor was discovered in its atmosphere.
The exoplanet, listed as TOI-674 b, so named because it doesn’t orbit the Sun but another star, has a promising element in its detectable atmosphere. Jonathan Brande of the University of Kansas, who led the study by an international team of scientists, said on Thursday that water vapor had recently been detected there.
The planet that Brande named “rarely, revolves around a red dwarf located about 150 light years from Earth. A light year is equivalent to six trillion miles (or 9.7 trillion kilometers), but the distance is still considered “near, nearbyin astronomical terms, according to NASA. The US space agency said it will now be the subject of a detailed study.
While the researchers don’t yet know exactly how much water vapor is in TOI-674 b’s atmosphere, they have already figured out some other important details. The exoplanet is about 1.3 times the size of Neptune and about 23 times the mass of Earth. It orbits its small and relatively cold star very densely, making a complete revolution in less than two days – this is the duration of a “year” on TOI-674 b. For comparison, it takes Neptune about 165 years to make a complete revolution around the Sun.
Called the planet “Super Neptune” because of its size, a cosmic body surrounded by gases is extremely rare. While thousands of exoplanets have been confirmed in our galaxy, only a few in the size class between Neptune and Jupiter are known to orbit their stars in three days or less. Atmospheres are generally thought to be unable to withstand such close proximity to the stars.
The close distance of an exoplanet with a detectable atmosphere from its parent star likely indicates TOI-674 b was born somewhere further away and then migrated to where it is now, Brande said.
“Planets the size of Neptune and slightly larger are very rare in these orbits – in what astronomers call the desert of Neptune.“, he said, speaking at a press conference for the latest meeting of the American Astronomical Society. He added that “desert planets are very rare”, suggesting that many of them have lost their atmosphere due to stellar radiation.
The parent star of the new object of astronomers’ attention cannot be seen from Earth with the naked eye. However, the exoplanet has become accessible to telescopes with high enough resolution to observe its atmosphere in more detail. This “has a very large transit signal‘, according to Brande.
The planet was first discovered by the NASA Exoplanet Exploration Transit Satellite and then explored by the Hubble Space Telescope. The researchers now hope its atmosphere can be studied in more detail with another telescope equipped with special instruments called spectrographs that can detect certain gases.
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The discovery of water vapor does not make TOI-674 ba a candidate for potential habitability, but it does position it as a prime target for future studies of planet formation in the star system. Studying the chemical structure of its atmosphere will explain in more detail how it and other stars formed and moved around the universe.
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