Cloudy Days on Exoplanets Can Hide Atmospheric-Water - Physics-Astronomy.org

Cloudy Days on Exoplanets Can Hide Atmospheric-Water

Water is a hot subject in the learn of exoplanets, including "hot Jupiters," whose masses are alike to that of Jupiter, but which are a great deal closer to their close relative star than Jupiter is to the sun. They can reach a boiling 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit (1,100 degrees Celsius), sense any water they host would get the form of water vapor.
Astronomers have establish a lot of hot Jupiters with water in their atmospheres, but others come into view to have none. Scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, required to find out what the atmospheres of these huge worlds have in common.
Researchers focused on a compilation of hot Jupiters studied by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. They establish that the atmospheres of about half of the planets were infertile by clouds or haze.
"The motivation of our learn was to see what these planets would be like if they were group together, and to see whether they share any atmospheric property," said Aishwarya Iyer, a JPL intern and master's degree candidate at California State University, Northridge, who led the learn. 
The latest study, published in the June 1 issue of the Astrophysical Journal, suggests that clouds or haze layers could be preventing a substantial quantity of atmospheric water from being detect by space telescopes. The clouds themselves are likely not complete of water, as the planets in this example are too hot for water-based clouds.
"Clouds or haze appear to be on almost every planet we deliberate," Iyer said. "You have to be careful to take clouds or haze into account, or else you could undervalue the amount of water in an exoplanet's atmosphere by a issue of two."
In the learn, scientists looked at a set of 19 hot Jupiters before observed by Hubble. The telescope's Wide Field Camera 3 had detect water vapor in the atmospheres of 10 of these planets, and no water on the additional nine. But that information was spread across additional than a dozen studies. The methods of analyzing and understanding varied because the studies were conduct separately. There had not been one overarching analysis of every one these planets.
To compare the planets and look for pattern, the JPL team had to standardize the data: Researchers joint the datasets for all 19 hot Jupiters to create an standard overall light spectrum for the group of planets. They then compare these data to models of clear, cloud-free atmospheres and those with a variety of cloud thicknesses.
The scientists strong-minded that, for almost every planet they deliberate, haze or clouds were blocking half of the atmosphere, on standard.
"In a number of of these planets, you can see water peeking its top up above the clouds or haze, and there could still be additional water below," Iyer said.
Scientists do not yet be acquainted with the nature of these clouds or hazes, including what they are they made of.
"Clouds or haze life form on almost all these planets is pretty surprising," said Robert Zellem, a postdoctoral fellow at JPL and co-author of the learn.
The implication of this result agree with answer published in the Dec. 14, 2015, issue of the journal Nature. The Nature learn used data from NASA's Hubble and Spitzer Space Telescopes to suggest that clouds or haze could be hiding hidden water in hot Jupiters. This new learn uses exoplanet data from a single instrument on Hubble to consistently characterize a larger group of hot Jupiters, and is the first to count how much of the atmosphere would be shielded as a consequence of clouds or haze.
The latest research could have implication for follow-up studies with future space observatories, such as NASA's James Webb Space Telescope. Exoplanets with thick cloud covers blocking the discovery of water and other substance may be less desirable targets for extra extensive study.
Michael Line of the college of California, Santa Cruz, also contributed to the learn. Other co-authors from JPL included Gael Roudier, Graca Rocha &  John Livingston.
Cloudy Days on Exoplanets Can Hide Atmospheric-Water

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