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Clouds Solve Mystery of Missing Water on ‘Hot Jupiter’ Planets

Clouds Solve Mystery of Missing Water on ‘Hot Jupiter’ Planets


An artist’s sense of 10 prohibited Jupiter worlds featured in a largest spectroscopic catalog of exoplanet atmospheres to scale with one another. The pale atmospheres of such planets might censor signals of water, scientists say.
Credit: NASA/ESA

Cloudy skies on breathless Jupiter-size worlds seem to be stealing signs of H2O from extraordinary eyes.

A new consult of alien planets, famous as “hot Jupiters,” reveals that a vast series of them though clever signs of H2O enclose clouds and hazes that might retard measurements of H2O deeper within a atmosphere, elucidate a nonplus that has tormented astronomers for some time.

“Our formula advise it’s simply clouds stealing a H2O from meddling eyes, and therefore order out dry, prohibited Jupiters,” co-author Jonathan Fortney of a University of California, Santa Cruz, pronounced in a statement. Fortney was partial of an general investigate led by David Sing, of a University of Exeter in a United Kingdom, that analyzed a largest series of hot-Jupiter atmospheres ever complicated during once. [The Strangest Alien Planets We Know (Gallery)]

“The choice speculation to this is that planets form in an atmosphere deprived of water, though this would need us to totally rethink a stream theories of how planets are born.”

Exotic clouds, Exotic Planets

About 1 percent of a exoplanets found to date are prohibited Jupiters, large gas giants that orbit their star in usually days or even hours.  NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has been means to investigate usually a handful of a atmospheres of these worlds since many are mislaid in a splendid light streaming from their primogenitor star. Initial examinations of these worlds showed that, while some contained clever signs of H2O in their atmosphere, others seemed to have small or none, creation them “dry.”

Sing and his colleagues used mixed observations by Hubble and NASA’s Spitzer space telescope to investigate a collection of 10 hot-Jupiter atmospheres opposite an rare operation of wavelengths, formulating a largest-ever spectroscopic catalog of exoplanet atmospheres. Before a study, examinations of exoplanet atmospheres have been singular to manifest light.

The organisation found that dry worlds with gloomy H2O signals also contained clouds and hazes, while those with clever signs of H2O seemed cloud-free.  This suggested that all of a worlds contained identical amounts of water, that shaped by identical means, rather than some of them carrying H2O somehow private from them early in their lifetimes.

“I’m unequivocally vehement to finally see this far-reaching organisation of planets together, as this is a initial time we’ve had sufficient wavelength coverage to review mixed facilities from one world to another,” Sing pronounced in a statement.

“We found a heavenly atmospheres to be most some-more different than we expected.”

Hot Jupiters strech intensely high temperatures, so their clouds aren’t done adult of H2O such as those found on Earth. According to Fortney, they could instead be stoical of materials like droplets of glass iron.

“These are outlandish clouds on outlandish planets,” he said.

Planet evolution

While prohibited Jupiters are too breathless for life as we know it to evolve, bargain their combination shines light on how they, and other planets, form.         

To investigate atmospheres on other worlds, astronomers contingency concentration on planets that pass between Earth and their primogenitor star. As they pierce along this path, famous as a transit, light from a star passes by a planets’ atmospheres, permitting scientists to brand signals from several elements and molecules, and establish between pale and transparent worlds.

“The atmosphere leaves a singular fingerprint on a starlight, that we can investigate when a light reaches us,” pronounced Hannah Wakeford, of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Only a handful of measurements of exoplanet atmospheres have been taken by Hubble. The satellite’s successor, a James Webb Space Telescope, will concede astronomers to investigate a atmospheres of worlds over a solar complement in a infrared after it launches in 2018.       

The formula were published online Monday (Dec. 14) in a biography Nature.

Follow Nola Taylor Redd on Twitter @NolaTRedd or Google+. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebookor Google+. Originally published on Space.com

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