. 24/7 Space News .
Amsterdam researchers observe iron in exoplanetary atmosphere
by Staff Writers
Amsterdam, The Netherlands (SPX) May 14, 2020

Artistic impression of exo planet KELT-9b orbiting its star KELT-9. (c) NASA/JPL-Caltech

An international team of researchers, led by astronomers from the University of Amsterdam, has directly demonstrated the presence of iron in the atmosphere of an exoplanet for the first time. The researchers discovered emission lines of uncharged iron atoms in the light spectrum of KELT-9b. The observation was complicated as the exoplanet is outshined by its bright host star.

The exoplanet KELT-9b orbits around its star KELT-9 in 36 hours. The star and planet are located at a distance of approximately 620 light-years from Earth in the Cygnus constellation. The star has a temperature of over 10,000 degrees, almost twice as hot as the sun. The planet KELT-9b is bigger than Jupiter. It is close to its star, around thirty times closer than the Earth to the sun.

The researchers already knew there had to be iron in the planetary atmosphere. A few years ago, they already saw signs of this when studying the starlight while the planet passed in front of its star (in Dutch).

In the new observations, the researchers looked directly at the light of the planet. This is complicated, as the planet is outshined by the light of its star. Furthermore, due to its proximity to its host star, one year on the planet lasts about one day and a half. During half of this very short "year", the planet's night side is facing Earth, but that is too dark to be seen. Thus, the researchers picked up the light during a narrow 8 hours just before the planet disappeared behind the star, to observe its hotter, brighter day-side.

Lorenzo Pino (University of Amsterdam), lead author of the study, compares looking for the light from the exoplanet in the glare of its host star with looking at a firefly near a lamppost: 'A few years ago we saw the shadow of the firefly, or in our case, the shadow of the exoplanet. We've now looked at the exoplanet directly.'

The researchers made their observations on the Spanish island of La Palma on the night of July 22, 2018 using an Italian telescope, the Telescopio Nazionale Galileo. This telescope features HARPS-N, a spectrograph that can split light and reveal the presence of specific atoms and molecules. The researchers extracted the emission lines of atoms using a technique called cross-correlation.

Pino compares cross-correlation with Photoshopping a series of film images: 'The star is stationary, but the planet is moving. The cross-correlation is a kind of filter that moves with the planet. This allows us to isolate the planetary light.'

Hubble Space Telescope
Based on the data, the researchers now think that the iron in the atmosphere of exoplanet KELT-9b heats the upper part of the atmosphere, making it warmer than the lower part. The idea is that the iron absorbs the starlight, thus heating the atmosphere. On Earth, a similar process takes place in the atmosphere. However, in this case it is not iron but ozone that heats up the top layers.

In the future, the researchers hope to carry out a deeper investigation by precisely measuring the iron content in the planetary atmosphere. For example, this could take place using the Hubble Space Telescope (in Dutch) on which Lorenzo Pino has been assigned observation time (in Dutch). Ultimately, the researchers hope to reveal how hot, gaseous giant exoplanets such as KELT-9b emerge and why there are no comparable examples in our own solar system.

Research Report: 'Neutral Iron Emission Lines From The Day-side Of KELT-9b. The GAPS Programme With HARPS-N At TNG XX'

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

Thanks for being there;
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 Monthly Supporter
$5+ Billed Monthly

paypal only
SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once

credit card or paypal

Astronomers capture rare images of planet-forming disks around stars
Leuven, Belgium (SPX) May 01, 2020
An international team of astronomers has captured fifteen images of the inner rims of planet-forming disks located hundreds of light years away. These disks of dust and gas, similar in shape to a music record, form around young stars. The images shed new light on how planetary systems are formed. They were published in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics. To understand how planetary systems, including our own, take shape, you have to study their origins. Planet-forming or protoplanetary disks a ... read more

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

NASA Funds Artemis Student Challenges to Inspire Space Exploration

Marshall team prepares for upcoming Commercial Crew Launch

Spacesuit for the ground

Astronauts Leave "Microbial Fingerprint" on Space Station

Digipen student project heading to space on Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket

Soyuz-7 for Sea Launch to be equipped with new Fregat-SBU Upper Stage

Three types of rockets to shoulder construction of China's space station

Bipartisan space launch legislation introduced

Study suggests terrestrial life unlikely to contaminate Mars

The little tires that could go to Mars

The strange structure of large impact craters on Mars observed by Opportunity

Salty Liquids on Mars - Present, but not habitable?

China's experimental new-generation manned spaceship works normally in orbit

Long March-5B rocket enables China to construct space station

China's new spacecraft returns to Earth: official

China's space test hits snag with capsule 'anomaly'

ESA Startup competition: next steps

Blackjack focuses on risk reduction flights and simulations

Airbus supplies EU with satellite communications

Inmarsat launches solution for the rail industry

Study suggests polymer composite could serve as lighter, non-toxic radiation shielding

AI powers novel ISR capability for operations in denied communications environments

Russia Probes Explosion of One of Its Used Boosters in Orbit

Space age for metals, foams and the living

Scientists reveal solar system's oldest molecular fluids could hold the key to early life

New 'planetary quarantine' report reviewing risks of alien contamination

Life on the rocks helps scientists understand how to survive in extreme environments

Study: Life might survive, and thrive, in a hydrogen world

New evidence of watery plumes on Jupiter's moon Europa

Telescopes and spacecraft join forces to probe deep into Jupiter's atmosphere

Newly reprocessed images of Europa show 'chaos terrain' in crisp detail

Mysteries of Uranus' oddities explained by Japanese astronomers

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2024 - 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. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Statement Our advertisers use various cookies and the like to deliver the best ad banner available at one time. All network advertising suppliers have GDPR policies (Legitimate Interest) that conform with EU regulations for data collection. By using our websites you consent to cookie based advertising. If you do not agree with this then you must stop using the websites from May 25, 2018. Privacy Statement. Additional information can be found here at About Us.