Astronomers detect exoplanet with a cloud-free atmosphere

May 10, 2018 - By Edwin Martin

This planet outside of our solar system is called WASP-96b, but scientists also call it ‘hot Saturn’. Space researchers discovered a giant exoplanet that emits a thin trail of gas covering up to five times its surface and in whose huge tail identified signs of helium. The news was published in the journal Nature.

Astronomers detect exoplanet with a cloud-free atmosphere

Astronomers detect exoplanet with a cloud-free atmosphere

Called WASP-107b, it looks like a monumental comet that is losing between ten thousand and 300 thousand tons of gas per second, says the team of experts of the Hubble Space Telescope.

Although helium is the second most abundant element in the Universe, this is the first time it is detected in the atmosphere of an exoplanet and that is the reason for the finding, said Jessica Spake, of the British University of Exeter.

The scientists used the Wide Field Camera 3 to observe the WASP-107b and thanks to new data from the European satellite Gaia it was determined that it is 210 light years from Earth.

Despite its size, this exoplanet has 12% of the mass of Jupiter, which resembles in size, and makes it one of the lightest worlds ever found in our galaxy, says Spake.

According to the researchers, its large size is due to the proximity to its host star, with the consequent “bombardment” of radiation that keeps it inflated like a balloon.

Spake commented that most of the lost mass is projected onto the night side of the WASP-107b forming a huge tail that is three to five times larger than the planet itself.

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