There are such planets of stars located very far from Earth, from which scientists have great hopes. Identifying these planets is a challenging task. But with the help of data from multiple telescopes, researchers have discovered the clouds of a giant gaseous exoplanet located 520 light-years away from Earth. Not only this, this observation was so detailed that researchers were able to extract information about the height of the clouds of that extraterrestrial and the composition of the upper atmosphere.
The researchers of this study, published in Astronomy and Astrophysics, say their work will help better understand the atmospheres of extraterrestrials and help find worlds where conditions are favorable for life or biological signs in their spectrum. Researchers say that they are also coming in a position to make weather reports in distant alien worlds.
How is the size of this extraterrestrial planet?
In this research, an extraterrestrial named WASP 127b was studied, discovered in 2016. It is a scorching planet that is orbiting its star so close that it has only 4.2 days in a year. Its size is only 1.3 times that of Jupiter, while its weight is 0.16 times that of Jupiter. The atmosphere of this planet is slightly thinner and more delicate. Due to which the analysis of its structure becomes accessible through the light passing through it.
Data of two devices
For this, a team of researchers led by astronomer Romain Alarte of Canada’s Université de Montréal combined the optical data from the infrared instrument from the Hubble Space Telescope and the Espresso instrument from the Very Large Telescope on Earth and observed the different altitudes of WASP 127b’s atmosphere.
Water vapour and clouds
Alert says that he found sodium on this planet, as was found in such worlds, but at a much lower altitude than what was expected. There were indications of solid water vapour in the infrared signals. But nothing like this was seen in the visible light waves. This showed that the clouds are blocking water vapour at the lower level, making them not visible, while the clouds appear transparent in infrared waves.
It is not easy to extract information about the atmosphere
Finding out the composition of the atmospheres of extraterrestrials is a challenging task. This is because we cannot see most of the extraterrestrials directly. We know their presence by their effect on their stars. When the light coming from the stars is more or less when they come between us and the principal.
This is how the information about the atmosphere is obtained
If the light coming from the star is interrupted at regular intervals, it is an indication that the planet is orbiting the star. This observation of the spectrum of the incoming light gives information about the different elements present on this planet. Scientists call these signature absorption lines, which reveal what is in the atmosphere.
That’s what Alert’s team did, using high-resolution absorption data to trace the height of the clouds to the bottom layer of clouds whose atmospheric pressure was 0.3 to 0.5 millibars. Alert says that they could only know about clouds because they are not made of water droplets like Earth. Apart from the location of sodium, they are also surprised that this planet is orbiting in the opposite direction of its star. Therefore, this planet will be studied more in the future.