Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. 24/7 Space News .




Subscribe to our free daily newsletters



EXO WORLDS
Exoplanet Has Smothering Stratosphere Without Water
by Staff Writers
Pasadena CA (JPL) Nov 30, 2017


A NASA-led team of scientists determined that WASP-18b, a "hot Jupiter" located 325 light-years from Earth, has a stratosphere that's loaded with carbon monoxide, but has no signs of water.

A NASA-led team has found evidence that the oversized exoplanet WASP-18b is wrapped in a smothering stratosphere loaded with carbon monoxide and devoid of water. The findings come from a new analysis of observations made by the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes.

The formation of a stratosphere layer in a planet's atmosphere is attributed to "sunscreen"-like molecules, which absorb ultraviolet (UV) and visible radiation coming from the star and then release that energy as heat.

The new study suggests that the "hot Jupiter" WASP-18b, a massive planet that orbits very close to its host star, has an unusual composition, and the formation of this world might have been quite different from that of Jupiter and gas giants in other planetary systems.

"The composition of WASP-18b defies all expectations," said Kyle Sheppard of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, lead author of the paper published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters. "We don't know of any other extrasolar planet where carbon monoxide so completely dominates the upper atmosphere."

On Earth, ozone absorbs UV in the stratosphere, protecting our world from a lot of the Sun's harmful radiation. For the handful of exoplanets with stratospheres, the absorber is typically thought to be a molecule such as titanium oxide, a close relative of titanium dioxide, used on Earth as a paint pigment and sunscreen ingredient.

The researchers looked at data collected for WASP-18b, located 325 light-years from Earth, as part of a survey to find exoplanets with stratospheres. The heavyweight planet, which has the mass of 10 Jupiters, has been observed repeatedly, allowing astronomers to accumulate a relatively large trove of data. This study analyzed five eclipses from archived Hubble data and two from Spitzer.

From the light emitted by the planet's atmosphere at infrared wavelengths, beyond the visible region, it's possible to identify the spectral fingerprints of water and some other important molecules.

The analysis revealed WASP-18b's peculiar fingerprint, which doesn't resemble any exoplanet examined so far. To determine which molecules were most likely to match it, the team carried out extensive computer modeling.

"The only consistent explanation for the data is an overabundance of carbon monoxide and very little water vapor in the atmosphere of WASP-18b, in addition to the presence of a stratosphere," said Nikku Madhusudhan a co-author of the study from the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom.

"This rare combination of factors opens a new window into our understanding of physical and chemical processes in exoplanetary atmospheres."

The findings indicate that WASP-18b has hot carbon monoxide in the stratosphere and cooler carbon monoxide in the layer of the atmosphere below, called the troposphere.

The team determined this by detecting two types of carbon monoxide signatures, an absorption signature at a wavelength of about 1.6 micrometers and an emission signature at about 4.5 micrometers. This is the first time researchers have detected both types of fingerprints for a single type of molecule in an exoplanet's atmosphere.

In theory, another possible fit for the observations is carbon dioxide, which has a similar fingerprint. The researchers ruled this out because if there were enough oxygen available to form carbon dioxide, the atmosphere also should have some water vapor.

To produce the spectral fingerprints seen by the team, the upper atmosphere of WASP-18b would have to be loaded with carbon monoxide. Compared to other hot Jupiters, this planet's atmosphere likely would contain 300 times more "metals," or elements heavier than hydrogen and helium.

This extremely high metallicity would indicate WASP-18b might have accumulated greater amounts of solid ices during its formation than Jupiter, suggesting it may not have formed the way other hot Jupiters did.

"The expected launch of the James Webb Space Telescope and other future space-based observatories will give us the opportunity to follow up with even more powerful instruments and to continue exploring the amazing array of exoplanets out there," said Avi Mandell, an exoplanet scientist at Goddard and the second author of the paper.

EXO WORLDS
Newly Discovered Twin Planets Could Solve Puffy Planet Mystery
Honolulu HI (SPX) Nov 30, 2017
Since astronomers first measured the size of an extrasolar planet 17 years ago, they have struggled to answer the question: how did the largest planets get to be so large? Thanks to the recent discovery of twin planets by a University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy team led by graduate student Samuel Grunblatt, we are getting closer to an answer. Gas giant planets are primarily made out ... read more

Related Links
Spitzer Space Telescope
Lands Beyond Beyond - extra solar planets - news and science
Life Beyond Earth


Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once


credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly


paypal only

Comment using your Disqus, Facebook, Google or Twitter login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

EXO WORLDS
Building for a future in space: An interview with Dava Newman and Gui Trotti

Space Farms: 'Mark Watney in The Martian Was Right to Add Poop to the Soil'

New motion sensors major step towards cheaper wearable technology

Does the Outer Space Treaty at 50 need a rethink

EXO WORLDS
ISRO eyes one rocket launch a month in 2018

Russia to build launch pad for super heavy-lift carrier by 2028

Mechanisms are critical to all space vehicles

Russia loses contact with satellite after launch from new spaceport

EXO WORLDS
Earthworms can reproduce in Mars-like soil

Opportunity Greets Winter Solstice

NASA builds its next Mars rover mission

Scientists developed a new sensor for future missions to the Moon and Mars

EXO WORLDS
Nation 'leads world' in remote sensing technology

China plans for nuclear-powered interplanetary capacity by 2040

China plans first sea based launch by 2018

China's reusable spacecraft to be launched in 2020

EXO WORLDS
Going green to the Red Planet

Orbital ATK purchase by Northrop Grumman approved by shareholders

UK space launch program receives funding boost from Westminster

Need to double number of operational satellites: ISRO chief

EXO WORLDS
Quantum optics allows us to abandon expensive lasers in spectroscopy

Spin current from heat: New material increases efficiency

New catalyst controls activation of a carbon-hydrogen bond

Math gets real in strong, lightweight structures

EXO WORLDS
Scientists identify key factors that help microbes thrive in harsh environments

Exoplanet Has Smothering Stratosphere Without Water

Scientists study Earth's earliest life forms in Nevada hot spring

Traces of life on nearest exoplanets may be hidden in equatorial trap

EXO WORLDS
Pluto's hydrocarbon haze keeps dwarf planet colder than expected

Jupiter's Stunning Southern Hemisphere

Watching Jupiter's multiple pulsating X-ray Aurora

Help Nickname New Horizons' Next Flyby Target




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News






The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement