Friday, August 4, 2017

EXOPLANET WITH 'GLOWING' WATER ATMOSPHERE DETECTED BY HUBBLE

 Scientists at the University of Exeter & Co. have discovered the strongest evidence to date for a stratosphere on a planet outside of our solar system. What's more exciting is that this exoplanet appears to have an atmosphere full of 'glowing' water molecules.
 Although it's predicted exoplanets should have stratospheres, this has never been verified. On Earth, the stratosphere is the part of the atmosphere right above the troposphere - where we live - and it is also where airplanes travel through.
 To study the stratosphere of the planet WASP-121b, scientists looked at how different molecules in the planet's atmosphere reacted to light wavelengths (through Hubble's numerous tools). Water vapour came out as an easy benchmark since it behaves in predictable ways depending on its temperature.
 Hubble observed that the water molecules were glowing. In other words, that meant that hotter water molecules at the top of the atmosphere were releasing a lot of energy instead of absorbing it. This observation agreed with the main characteristic of a stratosphere: a layer of atmosphere in which temperature increases with higher altitudes.
Read more about this fascinating story at: https://www.nasa.gov/feature/jpl/hubble-detects-exoplanet-with-glowing-water-atmosphere

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