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Peering Into the Atmosphere of the Hottest Planet Known

3 Apr 2020, 16:00 UTC
Peering Into the Atmosphere of the Hottest Planet Known
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As the ultra-hot Jupiter KELT-9b blazes across the face of its host star, we have an excellent opportunity to examine its scalding atmosphere. A new study now reports on what we’ve found.
A Passing Glance
In our efforts to learn more about worlds beyond our solar system, atmospheres provide a critical key. Characterizing the atmospheres of exoplanets can provide us with insight into the planets’ compositions and climates, their evolution, and even — with some potential caveats — their habitability.
As a star’s light filters through a planet’s atmosphere on its way to Earth, the atmosphere absorbs certain wavelengths depending on its composition. [European Southern Observatory]In particular, transiting exoplanets provide us with a unique opportunity. As a planet passes in front of its host star, we briefly observe the star’s light filtering through the planet’s atmosphere. By exploring the spectrum of that light, not only can we identify the presence of specific atoms and molecules in the planet’s atmosphere, but we can also learn more about where they are and what the atmospheric properties are at those locations.
In a new study led by Jake Turner (Cornell University), a team of scientists digs deep into such a transmission spectrum for ...

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