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Space & Astronomy

James Webb reveals exoplanet where sand grains fall as rain

By T.K. Randall
November 16, 2023 · Comment icon 5 comments
Planet Wasp-107b.
Image Credit: LUCA School of Arts, Belgium/ Klaas Verpoest et al.
The planet, known as Wasp-107b, was recently revealed by the James Webb Space Telescope.
Situated 200 light years away in the constellation Virgo, this remarkable extrasolar world is enormous - almost as big as Jupiter - but with a mass more like that of Neptune.

It was originally discovered back in 2017, but now thanks to the James Webb it has been possible to reveal Wasp-107b to be a strange, exotic world with scorching temperatures and silicate sand clouds.

Bizarrely, this sand is also thought to fall from the sky like rain before turning back into vapor as part of an ongoing weather cycle unlike anything seen on any other planet.
The presence of water vapor and sulphur dioxide in its atmosphere would give Wasp-107b the distinct smell of burnt matches, while its atmosphere is thought to churn and swirl due to its raging winds.

"It's a great target because it's really fluffy," said planetary scientist Dr Joanna Barstow at the Open University. "It's one of the fluffiest planets out there and they're the ones we can get these big signals when we look at their atmosphere."

"We've been working on predictions for the past 10 years but nothing has quite prepared us for what we're actually seeing - both what we're finding out and the quality of the data."

"It's been really exciting."

Source: The Guardian | Comments (5)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Earl.Of.Trumps 8 months ago
James Webb, just wow. that's the first time I ever saw an exoplanet that was not (by necessity) transiting the sun. 
Comment icon #2 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 8 months ago
There are quite a few that are discovered by means other than the transiting method, including some by direct imaging. In fact the radial velocity method, where the "wobble" of the host star is measured as the planet orbits it, is currently responsible for around twice as many exoplanet discoveries as the transiting method. More than 30 exoplanets have been directly imaged. Wikipedia has a list of them ➡️ here.
Comment icon #3 Posted by Earl.Of.Trumps 8 months ago
Thanks Waspie. They're getting better at this every day. 
Comment icon #4 Posted by Saru 8 months ago
@Waspie_Dwarf - Wasp 107-b - they've finally named a planet after you ?
Comment icon #5 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 8 months ago
And the star, Wasp-107, is a dwarf star, which seems appropriate, so I should be flattered to be cosmically famous... EXCEPT Wasp-107b is one of the densest known planets!!! Hmmm. ?

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