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Scientists are now replicating exoplanet atmospheres, on Earth

15 Mar 2019, 11:38 UTC
Scientists are now replicating exoplanet atmospheres, on Earth
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This artist’s concept shows planet KELT-9b, an example of a “hot Jupiter,” or a gas giant planet orbiting very close to its parent star. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, United States, are cooking up an alien atmosphere right here on Earth. In a new study, JPL scientists used a high-temperature “oven” to heat a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide to more than 1,100 degrees Celsius (2,000 degrees Fahrenheit), about the temperature of molten lava. The aim was to simulate conditions that might be found in the atmospheres of a special class of exoplanets (planets outside our Solar System) called “hot Jupiters.”
Hot Jupiters are gas giants that orbit very close to their parent star, unlike any of the planets in our Solar System. While Earth takes 365 days to orbit the Sun, hot Jupiters orbit their stars in less than 10 days. Their close proximity to a star means their temperatures can range from 530 to 2,800 degrees Celsius (1,000 to 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit) or even hotter. By comparison, a hot day on the surface of Mercury (which takes 88 days to orbit the Sun) reaches about 430 degrees Celsius (800 degrees ...

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