Astronomers have detected clouds on a far, far away exoplanet



 With unprecedented precision , Canadian astronomers have detected clouds over a gas giant located some 520 light years from Earth, combining data from several telescopes, EuroPlanet Society reported on September 23.


The exoplanet in question, WASP-127b, was discovered in 2016. It is 1.3 times the size of Jupiter, but its mass is less. According to scientists' observations, WASP-127b has a rather thin atmosphere, which is perfect for attempting to analyze its contents from the light passing through it, projected by its host star. In order to observe the atmosphere of WASP-127b at different altitudes, a team of scientists led by astronomer Romain Allart from the University of Montreal in Canada combined infrared data from the Hubble Space Telescope and optical data from the ESPRESSO instrument of the Very Large Telescope on the ground. As a result, they concluded that there were low clouds on this fascinating planet.


“  First of all, as has been seen before in this type of planet, we detected the presence of sodium, but at a much lower altitude than we expected,  ” Allart said. “ Second, there were strong water vapor signals in the infrared, but none in the visible wavelengths. This implies that water vapor at lower levels is filtered by clouds that are opaque at visible wavelengths but transparent in the infrared. "


Allart and his team used high-resolution absorption data to infer the presence of a surprisingly low cloud layer, with atmospheric pressure between 0.3 and 0.5 millibars. However, astronomers do not yet know the exact composition of these clouds. Just can they say that they are not composed of water droplets like on Earth. They said future studies will provide a better understanding of not only the atmospheric structure of WASP-127b, but also the planet as a whole, which turns out to be a fascinating place.

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