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Evidence for the presence of matter at the liquid gas boundary on an exoplanet WASP-31b

Evidence for the presence of matter at the liquid gas boundary on an exoplanet WASP-31b

Artist’s impression of an extrasolar planet. Credit: ESA / ATG medialab, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

One of the characteristics that make a planet suitable for life is the presence of the weather system. Exoplanets are a long way from directly observing this, but astronomers can look for materials in the atmosphere that make the weather system possible. Researchers from the Dutch SRON Institute for Space Research and the University of Groningen have now found evidence of an exoplanet WASP-31b for chromium hydride, which is at corresponding temperature and pressure at the boundary between liquid and gas. The study was published in Astronomy and Astrophysics.


While Space probes Scan the planets and moons around our sun in search of extraterrestrial life, there are hundreds of billions of other stars in our galaxy, most of which are also surrounded by planets. These so-called exoplanets are too far to travel to, but we can study them with our telescopes. although Spatial resolution Usually insufficient to form a picture of an exoplanet, astronomers can still get a lot of information from the fingerprints that the atmosphere leaves behind in the light rays of the host star.

From these fingerprints – the so-called transmission spectra – astronomers deduce materials in the atmosphere of an exoplanet. These could one day give an indication of extraterrestrial life. Or they can show that there is a condition for life, like a weather system. For now, this type of research is limited to Giant planets Near their stars, the so-called hot Jupiter. These planets are too hot to predict life, but they can actually teach us a lot about how possible weather systems work. A research team from the Dutch SRON Institute for Space Research and the University of Groningen has found evidence of a substance at the boundary between a liquid and a gas. On Earth, this reminds us of clouds and rain.

First author Marek Bramm and colleagues found evidence in Hubble’s data on chromium Hydride (CrH) in the atmosphere of WASP-31b exoplanet. This is hot Jupiter with a temperature of about 1200 degrees Celsius at Twilight Zone Between day and night – the place where starlight travels through the atmosphere towards Earth. It occurs about the temperature at which chromium hydride moves from a liquid to a gas at the corresponding pressure in the outer layers of the planet, similar to the conditions of water on Earth. “With clouds and rain, chromium hydride could play a role in this planet’s potential weather system,” says Bram.

This is the first time that chromium hydride has been found on hot Jupiter, and thus at the appropriate pressure and temperature. Bram: “We should add that we only found chromium hydride using the Hubble Space Telescope. We did not see it in the data from the VLT Ground Telescope. There are reasonable explanations for that, but we are using the term evidence instead of evidence.”

When Hubble’s successor – the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) – was launched later this year, the team plans to use it for further investigation. “Hot Jupiters, including WASP-31b, always have the same side facing their host star,” says Michael Maine, co-author and head of the exoplanet program at SRON. “So we would expect a day side gaseous chromium hydride and a night side of liquid chromium hydride. According to theoretical models, the large temperature difference creates strong winds. We want to confirm this through observations.”

Co-author Flores van der Tak (SRON / UG) says, “With JWST, we are looking for chromium hydride on ten planets with different temperatures, to better understand how the weather systems on those planets are. Planets Depends on the temperature. ”


Astronomers see an unexpected molecule in the atmosphere of an exoplanet


more information:
Marek Bram, Flores FS. Van Der Tak, Katie L Chope, and Michael Maine, “Evidence for Chromium Hydride in Jupiter’s Hot Atmosphere WASP-31b”, Astronomy and Astrophysics2021.

the quote: Evidence of Substance on Liquid Gas Limits on Exoplanet WASP-31b (2021, Feb.3) Retrieved February 4, 2021 from https://phys.org/news/2021-01-evidence-substance-l Liquid -gas-boundary-exoplanet. Programming language

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