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




Subscribe to our free daily newsletters



EXO WORLDS
Inferno world with titanium skies
by Staff Writers
Belfast, Northern Ireland (SPX) Sep 14, 2017


An artist's impression showing the exoplanet WASP-19b, in which atmosphere astronomers detected titanium oxide for the first time. In large enough quantities, titanium oxide can prevent heat from entering or escaping an atmosphere, leading to a thermal inversion - the temperature is higher in the upper atmosphere and lower further down, the opposite of the normal situation. Image courtesy ESO/M. Kornmesser. For a larger version of this image please go here.

Astronomers at Queen's University Belfast, working with a team of international researchers, have detected titanium oxide in an exoplanet atmosphere for the first time, revealing incredible information about WASP-19b. Dr Neale Gibson from Queen's University Belfast teamed up with the European Southern Observatory (ESO) and researchers across the globe to unveil the discovery around the hot-Jupiter planet.

Using the power of the ESO's Very Large Telescope the experts unearthed unique information about the chemical composition, the temperature and pressure structure of the atmosphere of this unusual and very hot world. The results appear this week in the journal Nature.

"Detecting such molecules is, however, no simple feat," explained Elyar Sedaghati, who spent two years as ESO student to work on this project. "Not only do we need data of exceptional quality, but we also need to perform a sophisticated analysis. We used an algorithm that explores many millions of spectra spanning a wide range of chemical compositions, temperatures, and cloud or haze properties in order to draw our conclusions."

The team have examined the atmosphere of the exoplanet WASP-19b in greater detail than ever before. This remarkable planet has about the same mass as Jupiter, but is so close to its parent star that it completes an orbit in just 19 hours and its atmosphere is estimated to have a temperature of about 2000 degrees Celsius.

As WASP-19b passes in front of its parent star, some of the starlight passes through the planet's atmosphere and leaves subtle fingerprints in the light that eventually reaches Earth. By using the FORS2 instrument on the Very Large Telescope the team was able to carefully analyse this light and deduce that the atmosphere contained small amounts of titanium oxide, water and traces of sodium, alongside a strongly scattering global haze.

Dr Neale Gibson, a researcher at Queen's University Belfast, commented: "Detections of molecules on exoplanet atmospheres require extremely high precision measurements, and sophisticated algorithms to both extract the exoplanet's signature and interpret it.

"These results are the culmination of many years of work in improving these techniques, and we are now at the point where we can routinely measure the contents of exoplanet atmospheres and start to understand the physical and chemical processes at play. In the near future, we hope to use these techniques on more Earth-like worlds, and explore the diversity of terrestrial planets in our neighbourhood."

Dr Gibson added: "The presence of titanium oxide is thought to fundamentally change the physics of exoplanet atmospheres. For a long time it has been speculated to be present in the hottest exoplanet atmospheres but only indirect evidence has been found to date. These observations confirm its existence and open the way for exiting new observations of this planet with future facilities."

Titanium oxide is rarely seen on Earth. It is known to exist in the atmospheres of cool stars. In the atmospheres of hot planets like WASP-19b, it acts as a heat absorber. If present in large enough quantities, these molecules prevent heat from entering or escaping through the atmosphere, leading to a thermal inversion - the temperature is higher in the upper atmosphere and lower further down, the opposite of the normal situation. Ozone plays a similar role in Earth's atmosphere, where it causes inversion in the stratosphere.

The astronomers collected observations of WASP-19b over a period of more than one year. By measuring the relative variations in the planet's radius at different wavelengths of light that passed through the exoplanet's atmosphere and comparing the observations to atmospheric models, they could extrapolate different properties, such as the chemical content, of the exoplanet's atmosphere.

This new information about the presence of metal oxides like titanium oxide and other substances will allow much better modelling of exoplanet atmospheres. Looking to the future, once astronomers are able to observe atmospheres of possibly habitable planets, the improved models will give them a much better idea of how to interpret those observations.

"This important discovery is the outcome of a refurbishment of the FORS2 instrument that was done exactly for this purpose," added team member Henri Boffin, from ESO, who led the refurbishment project. "Since then, FORS2 has become the best instrument to perform this kind of study from the ground."

Research paper

EXO WORLDS
NASA Team Passes Major Technological Milestone for Characterizing Exoplanets
Greenbelt MD (SPX) Sep 11, 2017
NASA researchers say they have passed a major milestone in their quest to mature more powerful tools for directly detecting and analyzing the atmospheres of giant planets outside the solar system - one of the observational goals of NASA's proposed Wide-Field Infrared Space Telescope, also known as WFIRST. In tests conducted at the High-Contrast Imaging Testbed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Labo ... read more

Related Links
Queen's University Belfast
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
Diet tracker in space

Three astronauts blast off for five-month ISS mission

Crewed Missions Beyond LEO

Voyager Spacecraft: 40 Years of Solar System Discoveries

EXO WORLDS
SLS Core Stage Simulator Will Pave Way for Mission Success

Arianespace announces a new contract, bringing its order book to 53 launches across three rockets

EUMETSAT signs with Arianespace for first Metop-SG satellite launch

MHI to launch first Inmarsat-6 satellite

EXO WORLDS
45 Kilometers on the Odometry for Opportunity

New tools for exploring the surface of Mars

NASA's Curiosity Mars Rover Climbing Toward Ridge Top

New Gravity Map Suggests Mars Has a Porous Crust

EXO WORLDS
Spacecraft passes docking test

China, Russia to Have Smooth Space Cooperation, Says Expert

Kuaizhou-11 to send six satellites into space

Russia, China May Sign 5-Year Agreement on Joint Space Exploration

EXO WORLDS
India, Japan Set to Boost Space Cooperation

Bids for government funding prove strong interest in LaunchUK

Blue Sky Network Reaffirms Commitment to Brazilian Market

India to Launch Exclusive Satellite for Afghanistan

EXO WORLDS
Dormant, Yet Always-Alert Sensor Awakes Only in the Presence of a Signal of Interest

Air Force activates new satellites for tracking space objects

'Peel-and-go' printable structures fold themselves

Ultrathin spacecraft will collect, deposit orbital debris

EXO WORLDS
Hubble observes pitch black planet

The return of the comet-like exoplanet

Does the Organic Material of Comets Predate our Solar System?

X-rays Reveal Temperament of Possible Planet-hosting Stars

EXO WORLDS
Hibernation Over, New Horizons Continues Kuiper Belt Cruise

Pluto features given first official names

Jupiter's Auroras Present a Powerful Mystery

New Horizons Files Flight Plan for 2019 Flyby




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