NASA Detects Signs of Strong Water in Neptune-Sized Planet (Download PDF)

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National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) scientists detected a strong water signature in the atmosphere of a distant Neptune-sized planet called HAT-P-26b. That could help understand more about the birth and development of planetary systems.

Image of the signs of strong water in Neptune

Image of the Signs of Strong Water in Neptune

Image of the signs of strong water in Neptune

Highlights:

  • Scientists using NASA telescopes have detected a “strong water” signature in the atmosphere of a distant Neptune-sized planet
  • Neptune-sized planet called HAT-P-26b.
  • The study combining observations from NASA’s Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes
  • HAT-P-26b has an original atmosphere composed almost entirely of hydrogen and helium.
  • Situated about 437 light-years away
  • HAT-P-26b orbits a star roughly twice as old as our Sun
  • The planet is not a water world its atmosphere which is relatively clear of clouds has a strong water signature.
  • Officially named HAT-P-26b, the planet is referred to as “Warm Neptune. “
  • Planet Neptune in our solar system but much warmer in temperature since it orbits closer to its sun
  • The study made three notable findings
Image of the three notable findings

Image of the Three Notable Findings

Image of the three notable findings

  • To study HAT-P-26b’s atmosphere, the researchers used data from transits - occasions when the planet passed in front of its host star.
  • During a transit, a fraction of the starlight gets filtered through the planet’s atmosphere, which absorbs some wavelengths of light but not others
  • The signatures of the starlight change as a result of this filtering, researcher can work backward to figure out the chemical composition of the atmosphere.
  • The team pooled data from four transits measured by Hubble and two seen by Spitzer.
  • Those observations covered a wide range of wavelengths from yellow light through the near-infrared region.
  • The water measured in the planet is one of the best measurement of water to date found on an exoplanet of this size
  • The significance of the study lies in the fact that it would help in understanding more about the birth and development of planetary systems.
  • The planet’s metallicity was found to be about 4.8 times that of the Sun
  • It would help in understanding the planet formation.

Significance

Image of the significance

Image of the Significance

Image of the significance

- Published/Last Modified on: May 17, 2017

Science/Technology

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