“This characteristic makes WASP-107b quite “fluffy” compared to gas giants in the Solar System. The “fluffyness” of this exoplanet allows astronomers to peer into its atmosphere almost 50 times deeper than when studying Jupiter,” – scientists explain.
The study noted that astronomers found no trace of the greenhouse gas methane in WASP-107b. The absence of methane indicates a potentially warm interior of the planet.
At the same time, the discovery of sulfur dioxide was a big surprise, because previous simulations predicted its absence. New climate models indicate that WASP-107b itself contributes to the formation of sulfur dioxide in its atmosphere.
The Institute of Astronomy of the University of Leuven also notes that this is the first time when astronomers were able to determine the chemical composition of clouds at high altitude. There, they consist of small silicate particles, which in many parts of the world are the main component of sand.
“The discovery of sand clouds, water and sulfur dioxide on this ‘fluffy’ exoplanet is a key milestone. It changes our understanding of planet formation and evolution, shedding new light on our Solar System,” – said Leuven University professor Lane Desin.
|Photo: European MIRI EXO GTO team/ESA/NASA|
Unlike Earth’s atmosphere, where water freezes at low temperatures, on gaseous planets with temperatures reaching about 1,000 degrees Celsius, silicate particles can freeze to form clouds, the study said.
However, in the case of the exoplanet WASP-107b, whose outer atmosphere has a temperature of about 500 degrees Celsius, silicate clouds must form deeper in the atmosphere, where temperatures are much higher. In addition, high in the atmosphere sand clouds fall as rain.
“Then how is it possible that these sand clouds exist at high altitudes and continue to endure?” – asked scientists.
“The fact that we see sand clouds high in the atmosphere means that the sand raindrops are evaporating into deeper, very hot layers. The resulting silicate vapor eventually returns to the top, where it condenses again to form silicate clouds. This is very similar to the water vapor cycle and clouds on Earth, but the drops there are made of sand.” – explains the lead author of the study, Dr. Michael Min.
We will remind you that we previously wrote that the Webb telescope showed a colorful “Christmas tree” galaxy cluster. PHOTO
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