The Great Exoplanet Bake-Off: Why NASA Made an Oven-Fresh Alien Atmosphere in Its Lab

Space.com | 3/20/2019 | Brandon Specktor
Tanya9 (Posted by) Level 3


Scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California have developed a simple new recipe for baking oven-fresh alien atmospheres — and you can follow along at home, thanks to a handy study published Jan. 29 in The Astrophysical Journal.

As you can probably intuit from the name, hot Jupiters are scorching — often reaching temperatures of roughly 1,000 to 5,000 F (530 to 2,800 C), the JPL team said in a statement. They're also bombarded by ultraviolet (UV) radiation from their nearby sun.

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This extreme living arrangement makes hot Jupiters brighter than many exoplanets and easier to study in depth. A handful of the thousands of known exoplanets fit in this category and, unlike most of the planets beyond our solar system, astronomers can often recognize a hot Jupiter by imaging their atmospheres in various wavelengths of light. Those atmospheres tend to be very hazy, even at high altitudes and in low-pressure regions where clouds couldn't likely form.

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The NASA JPL team wanted to know why. So, the team members tried to make their own hot Jupiter atmosphere in the lab using a very, very strong oven.

Previous work, such as this 2016 study in the journal Space Science Reviews, has suggested that hot Jupiter atmospheres likely contain lots of...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Space.com
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