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WASP-127 b

They were able to observe clouds in the atmosphere of an exoplanet more than 525 million light-years away


September 24, 2021, 16:05 GMT

WASP-127b is “hot Saturn”, orbiting so close to its star that it has a temperature of 1,100 degrees Celsius and its year lasts 4.2 days on Earth.

A team of researchers has detected clouds in the atmosphere of an exoplanet located more than 525 light-years away and were able to assess its height, according to a report. Foot This Wednesday at the Europlanet Society’s annual conference.

The planet in question is the gas giant WASP-127b. Its mass is similar to that of Saturn, but it orbits its star so close to its star that its year does not exceed 4.2 days on Earth and temperatures reach 1100 degrees Celsius.

As a result, its diameter is 1.6 times that of Jupiter, although its mass is five times smaller. The researchers note that “assuming the composition of hydrogen and helium, its barometric altitude is about 2,100 km.” They add that this “potentially makes this planet one of the best of its kind for studying the outer atmosphere using transmission spectroscopy.”

WASP-127b’s size helped astronomers observe its atmosphere as it passed in front of the star. The observations produced several unexpected results.

“First, as found previously on this type of planet, we detected the presence of sodium, but at a much lower altitude than we expected. Second, there were strong water vapor signals in the infrared, but no signals at visible wavelengths. This means that water vapor at lower levels is filtered by clouds that are opaque at visible wavelengths but transparent in the infrared,” he cites. release From the Europlanet Association to Romain Allart from the University of Monreal (Canada).

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unusual path

Similarly, the researcher noted that many critical questions still need to be explained. “We don’t yet know the composition of the clouds, except that they are not made of water droplets as they are on Earth. We are also puzzled as to why sodium is in such an unexpected place on this planet,” he explains.

However, the secrets of WASP-127b are not limited to its atmosphere. The planet rotates not only in the opposite direction to the star, but also not in the equatorial plane of the star. “Such an alignment is unexpected for a hot Saturn in an ancient star system and could be caused by an unknown companion. All these unique properties make WASP-127b a planet that will be intensively studied in the future,” says Allart.

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