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Space & Astronomy

Clouds, water vapor found on exoplanet

By T.K. Randall
May 14, 2017 · Comment icon 8 comments

HAT-P-26b is a great target for study. Image Credit: NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech
Astronomers have been analyzing the atmosphere of a Neptune-sized planet located 430 light years away.
Known as HAT-P-26b, this distant, tidally locked world, which has been referred to as a "warm Neptune" by scientists, was observed using NASA's Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes.

The atmosphere is thought to be dominated by hydrogen and helium to a much greater extent than its nearby counterparts, Uranus and Neptune, while evidence of water vapor and 'exotic' clouds composed of disodium sulfide have also been found.
The planet is situated very close to its host star and completes an orbit every 4.2 Earth days.

"This exciting new discovery shows that there is a lot more diversity in the atmospheres of these exoplanets than we have previously thought," said astrophysicist David Sing.

"This 'warm Neptune' is a much smaller planet than those we have been able to characterize in depth, so this new discovery about its atmosphere feels like a big breakthrough in our pursuit to learn more about how solar systems are formed, and how it compares to our own."

Source: Scientific American | Comments (8)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by TaintlessMetals 7 years ago
With discoveries like this coming on a weekly, almost daily basis I find it unbelievable that the vast amount of people still believe we are alone in the Universe. What we should really be focused on are better types of propulsion systems and free energy devices to power them. We can make a fairly educated guess as to whats out there, we just need the means to travel there.
Comment icon #2 Posted by EBE Hybrid 7 years ago
What I find remarkable about the atmosphere is this. If you think about it, on a calm day when the air is still, the air is acually moving at the speed of the planet, (in Earths case 1037mph at the equator). I guess that it makes a real difference to the effectivness of aero braking if you approach atmospheric entry in the opposite direction to planetary rotation.
Comment icon #3 Posted by bison 7 years ago
Most polls show that about half of Americans believe in intelligent life in the universe. The example linked below indicates that a similar response was gotten in the U.K, and Germany.  
Comment icon #4 Posted by J-Man V 7 years ago
Well said, Taintless! Agree 100%
Comment icon #5 Posted by Mr.United_Nations 7 years ago
We already are but its very difficult from paper to actual design
Comment icon #6 Posted by paperdyer 7 years ago
Considering it's only taking 4+ days to the planet's "year", it must be orbiting like a bat out of hell!  Also I didn't see any temperature reference other than "a warm Neptune"  Is the planet too hot for human life to survive with a habitat or not?  If it isn't it's sun must be small or in the last stages of its life.
Comment icon #7 Posted by BeastieRunner 7 years ago
I remember growing up when more people believed in God than in aliens. Kind of cool that we're seeing more and more new planets that help us hone in on, hopefully, one that will wave back.
Comment icon #8 Posted by paperdyer 7 years ago
And some people think they are one and the same!

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