Atmosphere Found Around Super-Earth Exoplanet

Posted: Apr 7 2017, 5:55am CDT | by , Updated: Apr 7 2017, 5:57am CDT, in News | Latest Science News

 
Atmosphere Found Around Super-Earth Exoplanet
An artist's impression of the atmosphere detected around a near-Earth-size planet, GJ 1132b, located 39 light-years away. Credit: MPIA
  • Astronomers Detected an Atmosphere Around Earth-Like Exoplanet GJ 1132b

A famous exoplanet out there which resembles a super earth has been found to have an atmosphere.

The super earth exoplanet titled GJ 1132b has been found to have an atmosphere that surrounds it. This is the first time anything resembling an atmosphere has been detected around an earth-like planet in outer space.

It is a fundamental step towards the search for life outside the solar system. The group of astronomers who made the discovery used the 2.2 m ESO/MPG telescope in Chile to gauge the host star of the exoplanet.

The decrease in brightness as the planet passed in front of the host star was noted down by the scientists. Although life has not been detected, it is an important foray into the possibility of life existing somewhere in the myriad planets in outer space.

The finding of life will require an analysis of the chemical composition of the atmosphere of the exoplanet. If there is a chemical imbalance in the atmosphere, this is most probably caused by a living entity. Take our own home planet, the earth. Large amounts of oxygen on it is a sign that life forms are present on its surface.

Until this discovery of GJ 1132b, all exoplanets that had been studied involved gas giants which were like super-hot Jupiters in their atmospheric consistency.

A spectrum of atmospheres were studied for and hypothesized for this particular exoplanet. These included those abundant in methane and water. The exoplanet is hotter (and bigger) than the earth so it could possibly have a lot of steam in the atmosphere.

This exoplanet circles the star in the Southern Constellation, Vela. It lies 39 light years away from the earth. The GROND imager at the 2.2 m ESO/MPG telescope in Chile was employed to gaze at the atmosphere of this exoplanet.

This new world was observed through seven different wavelengths. These ran the gamut from the optical to the infrared. GJ 1132b passed between earth and its host star every 1.6 days or so.

From the very small amount of light blocked by this exoplanet, the scientists have gauged the size of this planet which is 1.4 times that of the earth. The overall research on the matter shows that things are looking up for this sort of observational study.

This exoplanet will be studied in even greater detail in the future by the Hubble Space Telescope, the ESO’s Very Large Telescope and the James Webb Space Telescope.

The findings of this discovery are described in a paper titles "Detection of the atmosphere of the 1.6 Earth mass exoplanet GJ 1132B" in the Astronomical Journal.

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