The Limited Times

Now you can see non-English news...

Nasa research team makes important discovery on a distant planet

2023-11-28T19:38:07.249Z

Highlights: Nasa research team makes important discovery on a distant planet. How did the gas on WASP-80b come into being? The James Webb Space Telescope has revealed a secret to a distant exoplanet: methane. By measuring the amount of methane and water on the planet, one can infer the ratio of carbon to oxygen atoms. This ratio, in turn, provides clues as to whether the planet formed near its star or further away. The discovery of methane on an alien celestial body always causes excitement and a closer look at the object.



Status: 28.11.2023, 20:29 PM

By: Tanja Banner

CommentsPrint Share

The James Webb Space Telescope has detected methane in the atmosphere of the "warm Jupiter" WASP-80b. (Artist's impression) © NASA

The James Webb Space Telescope has revealed a secret to a distant exoplanet: methane. How did the gas on WASP-80b come into being?

Washington D.C. – A research team from the US space agency Nasa has found methane in the atmosphere of an exoplanet. What may sound uninteresting at first is actually highly exciting. This is because methane can be produced by biotic processes – i.e. by living organisms. Accordingly, the discovery of methane on an alien celestial body always causes excitement and a closer look at the object.

Methane can only withstand the light of the sun or other stars for a short time. There must therefore be a constant "replenishment". This is the only way to have enough methane in an atmosphere to be detected. This is especially true for Earth-like planets. If a rocky planet has methane, the source of the gas must be large – as on Earth, for example. On our planet, methane is produced by microorganisms, plants and fungi, but also by animals such as sheep or cattle. However, there are also sources of methane that are not an indication of life, including forest fires or volcanic eruptions.

Nasa detects methane on exoplanet WASP-80b

In our solar system, for example, methane has been discovered on the planet Mars – but so far no associated life has been found. In general, research assumes that most methane is produced by a process called serpentinization, which uses water to convert the mineral olivine. Olivine is very common in the Earth's upper mantle – but not in gaseous planets because they are not made of rock.

However, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has detected methane in a gas planet outside our solar system. The exoplanet WASP-80b is a gas giant orbiting a red dwarf star at a distance of 162 light-years. The research team, which has published its results in the journal Nature, is very sure after the methane find: "Not only have we found a very elusive molecule, but we can now also study what this chemical composition says about the formation, growth and development of the planet."

Thanks to methane discovery, researchers can find out a lot about planet WASP-80b

In fact, the methane of research reveals a lot: by measuring the amount of methane and water on the planet, one can infer the ratio of carbon to oxygen atoms on the distant planet. This ratio, in turn, provides clues as to whether the planet formed near its star or further away. "With a temperature of about 550 degrees Celsius, WASP-80b is what researchers call a 'warm Jupiter,'" study leader Taylor Bell and her co-author Luis Welbanks explain on NASA's website.

The researchers are particularly pleased about one thing: "NASA has already sent space probes to the gas giants in our solar system in the past to measure the amount of methane and other molecules in their atmospheres. By measuring the same gas at an exoplanet, we can now make an 'apples-to-apples' comparison and see if expectations for the solar system match what we see outside the solar system."

My news

  • Earth has received a message via laser beam – from a distance of 16 million kilometresread

  • Giant rocket "Starship": SpaceX boss Elon Musk with surprising announcementRead

  • When the next full moon will be in the skyread

  • Researchers want to banish the names of "colonialists and slave traders" from spaceread

  • Could one in 20 supervolcanoes really wipe out humanity?read

  • Supervolcano in Italy: Experts fear eruption near Naples

In the future, the JWST will take a closer look at the exoplanet WASP-80b with additional instruments. The research team is already convinced: "The voyage of discovery with the James Webb Space Telescope is full of potential surprises." (tab)

Source: merkur

All news articles on 2023-11-28

Similar news:

You may like

News/Politics 2023-11-30T10:19:47.710Z
News/Politics 2023-11-30T08:58:08.215Z

Trends 24h

News/Politics 2024-03-02T09:04:50.258Z

Latest

© Communities 2019 - Privacy

The information on this site is from external sources that are not under our control.
The inclusion of any links does not necessarily imply a recommendation or endorse the views expressed within them.