Neptune-sized exoplanet 90 light-years from Earth may contain water vapor, researchers suggest

0

New Neptune-sized exoplanet 90 light-years from Earth may contain water vapor, researchers suggest

  • Neptune-sized exoplanet with ‘substantial atmosphere’ identified has
  • Known as TOI-1231 b, the exoplanet has a 24-day orbit around its star
  • It is 90 light-years from Earth and may contain water vapor in its clouds
  • It is one of the coolest exoplanets discovered, with an expected temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit
  • The exoplanet was discovered by NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite
  • The researchers were able to measure the planet’s radius and mass, which allowed them to theorize that it is similar in composition to Neptune.

A new Neptune-sized exoplanet with a “substantial atmosphere” and the potential for water has been identified in deep space, according to a new study.

The exoplanet, known as TOI-1231 b, orbits its star, TOI-1231, for 24 days and could have an atmosphere similar to Neptune, given its size and density.

There is also a potential for water vapor on the planet, which is 90 light-years from Earth, which continues to intrigue scientists.

“The low density of TOI-1231 b indicates that it is surrounded by a substantial atmosphere rather than being a rocky planet,” said study co-author Diana Dragomir, an assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Sciences. Astronomy from UNM, in a statement. “But the composition and size of this atmosphere are unknown!”

Scroll down for video

Dragomir continued: ‘TOI-1231 b could have a large hydrogen or hydrogen-helium atmosphere, or a denser water vapor atmosphere. Each of these would point to a different origin, allowing astronomers to understand if and how planets form around M dwarfs differently from, say, the planets around our sun.’

M-dwarfs are types of stars that are significantly smaller than the Sun, ranging between eight and fifty percent of its mass. They are the most common class of stars.

Researchers discovered a Neptune-sized exoplanet known as TOI-1231 b, with a 'substantial atmosphere' and the potential for water

Researchers discovered a Neptune-sized exoplanet known as TOI-1231 b, with a ‘substantial atmosphere’ and the potential for water

The exoplanet orbits its star for 24 days and could have an atmosphere similar to Neptune, given its size and density.  There is also a potential for water vapor on the planet, which is 90 light-years from Earth aarde

The exoplanet orbits its star for 24 days and could have an atmosphere similar to Neptune, given its size and density. There is also a potential for water vapor on the planet, which is 90 light-years from Earth aarde

Water vapor on TOI-1231 b may be a possibility, but it’s still one of the coolest exoplanets discovered, with an expected temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

Previous studies have suggested that planets with such temperatures may have clouds high in the atmosphere, but further research on the exoplanet K2-18 b shows that there is potential for water in the atmosphere.

TOI-1231 b is one of the few other planets we know of in a similar size and temperature range, so future observations of this new planet will let us determine how common (or rare) it is for water clouds to form around these planets. temperate worlds,” said the study’s lead author, Jennifer Burt.

The exoplanet was discovered by NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) and later confirmed with the Planet Finder Spectrograph (PFS) on the Magellan Clay telescope at the Las Campanas Observatory in Chile.

Burt said the researchers were able to measure the planet’s radius and mass, allowing them to theorize that it is similar in composition to Neptune.

“Those values, in turn, allowed us to calculate the planet’s bulk density and hypothesize what the planet is made of,” explains Burt.

“TOI-1231 b is similar in size and density to Neptune, so we think it has an equally large, gaseous atmosphere.”

Scientists hope to further investigate the planet’s atmosphere with the Hubble Space Telescope and the James Webb Telescope, which will launch later this year.

“This new planet we’ve discovered is still weird, but it’s a step closer to being a little bit like our neighboring planets,” Burt continued. “Compared to most transiting planets discovered to date, which often have scorching temperatures in the many hundreds or thousands of degrees, TOI-1231 b is absolutely freezing.”

The study will be published in The Astronomical Journal, but a pre-print version can be read here.

Last month, NASA delayed the launch of the $10 billion Hubble replacement, partly because the rocket to launch it isn’t ready yet.

JAMES WEBB SPACE TELESCOPE: THE NEXT GREAT ORBITAL OBSERVATORY INSTALLED TO SEARCH FOR FOREIGN LIFE

NASA and partners plan to launch their next large space telescope later this year, and it will serve as Hubble’s natural successor.

Primarily an infrared telescope, it will have a wider spectrum than Hubble and operate further from Earth, orbiting the sun, rather than orbiting the Earth.

Ohio State University research claims James Webb will have found signs of alien life on a distant world within five years of it coming online.

Graduate student Caprice Phillips calculated that after just a few orbits, it could potentially detect ammonia created by living things around gas dwarf planets.

The James Webb telescope has been described as a “time machine” that could help unravel the secrets of our universe.

The telescope will be used to look back at the first galaxies born in the early universe more than 13.5 billion years ago.

It will also observe the sources of stars, exoplanets and even the moons and planets of our solar system.

The James Webb telescope and most of its instruments have an operating temperature of about 40 Kelvin.

This is approximately minus 387 Fahrenheit (minus 233 Celsius).

Officials from the space agencies responsible for the telescope say the cost could exceed the $8 billion (£5.6 billion) program limit set by Congress.

NASA has already poured $7 billion (£5 billion) into the telescope since it was first proposed as a replacement for the long-running Hubble Space Telescope.

When it launches in 2021, it will be the world’s largest and most powerful telescope, able to look back 200 million years after the Big Bang.

James Webb is designed to last five years, but NASA hopes it will last ten years or more, although it cannot be easily repaired due to its distance from Earth.

It is 66 ft by 46 ft and will operate at the Sun-Earth Lagrange point about 930,000 miles from Earth — nearly four times farther away than the Moon.

The telescope will be launched on a European workhorse Ariane-5 rocket at the end of October 2021, the first observations are expected in 2022.

Advertisement

.