In a breakthrough, NASA astronomers have identified the smallest exoplanet using the Hubble Space Telescope, which detected vapor in the atmosphere. The planet GJ 9827d, only roughly twice the diameter of Earth, is an example of possible planets with watery atmospheres elsewhere in our galaxy.
According to NASA, the newly discovered exoplanet is as hot as Venus at 800 degrees Fahrenheit.
GJ 9827d was discovered by NASA's Kepler space telescope in 2017, and it orbits a red dwarf star every 6.2 days. According to NASA, the star GJ 9827 is 97 light-years from Earth in the constellation Pisces.
„This is the first time we've shown directly with atmospheric detection that these planets with water-rich atmospheres can actually exist around other stars,” said Jorn Benneke, a member of the Trottier Institute for Exoplanet Research at the University of Montreal. .
„This is an important step in determining the distribution and diversity of atmospheres on rocky planets.”
„Until now, we have not been able to directly detect the atmosphere of such a small planet. We are now slowly getting into this regime,” Benneck added.
„Currently, the team has two possibilities,” said Benneke, who offered insights into the planet GJ 9827d. „The planet is still clinging to a watery hydrogen-rich envelope, making it a mini-Neptune. Alternatively, it could be a hotter version of Jupiter's moon Europa, with a crust twice the size of Earth.” There is water.
„The planet GJ 9827d is probably half water and half rock. And there is a lot of water vapor on top of some small rocky body,” he said.
According to the space agency, the Hubble project has observed the planet GJ 9827d at three-year intervals during 11 missions. During the journey, starlight filters through the planet's atmosphere and contains the spectral fingerprint of water molecules, it said.
„Observing water is a gateway to discovering other things,” said Thomas Green, an astrophysicist at NASA's Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, California.
The space agency is now focused on finding a complete catalog of elements for a planet that can be compared to the star it orbits and used to understand its formation.
„Oddany rozwiązywacz problemów. Przyjazny hipsterom praktykant bekonu. Miłośnik kawy. Nieuleczalny introwertyk. Student.