“Astronomers Discover Mini Neptune Covered in Fog with James Webb Space Telescope”

The mini planet Neptune is covered in fog. ©NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt (IPAC)

Reporter: Hari Ariyanti

Merdeka.com – Astronomers have finally made their way through the fog surrounding exoplanet GJ 1214b, a mini-Neptune planet around a star about 40 light years away. Mini-Neptune is a type of planet that is common in our galaxy — but because there are none in our solar system, scientists are curious.

Previous observations failed due to thick cloud cover, but the powerful infrared of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) allowed astronomers to reveal the planet. Astronomers discovered that mini Neptune had an atmosphere made of vapor, hinting at the planet’s past possibly being a “water world”, according to NASA researchers.

The results of this study were published in the journal Nature on May 10.

“For nearly the last decade, the only thing we really know about this planet is that it has a cloudy or foggy atmosphere,” NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab exoplanet researcher Rob Zellem said in a statement. 5).

The research team used JWST’s Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) to map the temperature of the planet as it traverses its orbit, capturing information during the day and night and helping astronomers find out what the planet is made of.

The temperature on the planet changes dramatically from day to night, getting hot as high as 535 degrees Fahrenheit or 280 degrees Celsius and then cooling to more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit during the night.

These large temperature changes indicate that the planet’s atmosphere is composed not only of light molecular hydrogen, but of other things such as water or methane.

Researchers see this finding as an interesting clue to the planet’s past, as its atmosphere is not compatible with star-forming material.

According to lead study author and University of Maryland astronomer Eliza Kempton, the planet is losing a lot of hydrogen.

“The simplest explanation, if you find a planet that is very rich in water, it formed farther away from its parent star,” he added.

Astronomers still have a lot to know about GJ 1214b, but they hope to observe more mini-Neptune with JWST in the near future. According to Kempton, they hope to find “consistent stories” about how mini-Neptune formed, and how the planet ended up with so much water.

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2023-05-16 07:14:53
#Astronomers #Find #Traces #Water #Planet #Solar #System #merdeka.com #Merdeka.com

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