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Space & Astronomy

Hubble finds clouds on nearby alien worlds

By T.K. Randall
January 3, 2014 · Comment icon 10 comments

The teams identified cloud cover on two nearby worlds. Image Credit: NASA
Astronomers using the Hubble telescope have picked up signs of cloud cover on two extrasolar planets.
The planets, one reminiscent of Neptune and the other a super-Earth, were examined as part of two separate studies using the Hubble Space Telescope to learn more about their atmospheres.

For the Neptune-like world which was located 36 light years away, researchers found that they were unable to pick up any chemical fingerprints in the planet's atmosphere at all. "Either this planet has a high cloud layer obscuring the view, or it has a cloud-free atmosphere that is deficient in hydrogen, which would make it very unlike Neptune," said researcher Heather Knutson.
In the second study, researchers investigating a super-Earth world located 40 light years away found even clearer signs of cloud cover in its atmosphere. Using high-precision instruments they were able to rule out the presence of water vapor, methane, nitrogen, carbon monoxide, or carbon dioxide.

"We really pushed the limits of what is possible with Hubble to make this measurement - our work devoted more Hubble time to a single exoplanet than ever before," said team leader Laura Kreidberg. "This advance lays the foundation for characterizing other Earths with similar techniques."

Source: Fox News | Comments (10)




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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by DemonicCupcake 11 years ago
"In the second study, researchers investigating a super-Earth world located 40 light years away found even clearer signs of cloud cover in its atmosphere. Using high-precision instruments they were able to rule out the presence of water vapor, methane, nitrogen, carbon monoxide, or carbon dioxide." Doesn't that make it NOT like Earth, or...?
Comment icon #2 Posted by Duchess Gummybuns 11 years ago
Clouds. Uh... I can't think of a cloud pun... Ah, I guess I'm not as high flying as I used to be. I TRIED. AT LEAST I TRIED.
Comment icon #3 Posted by moonshadow60 11 years ago
This is when I find science to be totally worthwhile. I don't know why; at that distance I will never set foot on either planet, but still it is interesting to know that someday human kind may, and they will know prior that when it rains there, if it rains, what the rain is made of.
Comment icon #4 Posted by Taun 11 years ago
Perhaps they are more "Venus like" than "Earth Like"...
Comment icon #5 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 11 years ago
Doesn't that make it NOT like Earth, or...? Nowhere in the article does it say that these planets ARE Earth-like. What it does say is this: The researchers described their work as an important milestone on the road to characterizing potentially habitable, Earth-like worlds beyond the solar system.(My emphasis)In fact is specifically states that these are NOT Earth like: The two planets fall in the middle range in mass, between smaller, rockier planets such as Earth and larger gas giants such as Jupiter. GJ 436b is categorized as a "warm Neptune" because it is much closer to its star than frigi... [More]
Comment icon #6 Posted by alfonso 11 years ago
this super earth sounds most intresting , would that mean if theres life of some sort also on it might that be supersize too? like giants lol
Comment icon #7 Posted by Harte 11 years ago
Clouds. Uh... I can't think of a cloud pun... Ah, I guess I'm not as high flying as I used to be. I TRIED. AT LEAST I TRIED. Don't know why There's no sun up in the sky Stormy alien weather. 'Bout good as it gets. Anyone else? Harte
Comment icon #8 Posted by Adirondack-Bob 11 years ago
"nearby worlds" and "36 light years away" don't seem like they belong to the same subject.
Comment icon #9 Posted by coolguy 11 years ago
That's cool the Hubble found clouds,
Comment icon #10 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 11 years ago
"nearby worlds" and "36 light years away" don't seem like they belong to the same subject. In a galaxy that is more than 100,000 light years across, 36 ly is practically next door.


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