Artist’s impression of the exoplanet WASP-19b, which is 815 light years away from Earth. Image credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser
Astronomers have detected titanium oxide in an exoplanet atmosphere for the first time ever. Using the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) Very Large Telescope and the FORS2 instrument, astronomers were able to examine the atmosphere of the hot-Jupiter planet, WASP-19b, to detect the rare molecule. This analysis of the atmosphere revealed the chemical composition, temperature and pressure structure of the unusual exoplanet, which lies 815 light years away.
Elyar Sedaghati, a recent Technical University of Berlin graduate, led the team of astronomers as they inspected the atmosphere of the exoplanet WASP-19b with the best possible detail. The astonishing exoplanet is about 30 per cent more massive than Jupiter, and because of its extremely close proximity to the parent star, it completes one orbit every nineteen hours.
When WASP-19b passes in front of its parent star, starlight reflects off the planet’s atmosphere, sending subdued clues of its composition to us on Earth. Using the FORS2 instrument, these astronomers were able to decipher that the atmosphere has a temperature of around 2000 degrees Celsius (3600 degrees Fahrenheit), and it also contains water, traces of sodium ...