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Chemical fingerprint reveals a migrating exoplanet

14 Apr 2021, 12:00 UTC
Chemical fingerprint reveals a migrating exoplanet
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Artist’s concept of exoplanet Osiris – aka HD 209458b – as it transits in front of its star. Note the illuminated crescent of the planet, where the colors illustrate the light spectra that – like a chemical fingerprint – let astronomers identify as many as 6 molecules in the planet’s atmosphere. “It’s the first time so many molecules have been measured and points to an atmosphere with more carbon than oxygen”, they said. Image via University of Warwick/ Mark Garlick.
An international team of astronomers analyzed the light of an exoplanet labeled HD 209458b – also known as Osiris – and found as many as six molecules in its atmosphere. It’s the most molecules ever detected in a planetary atmosphere outside of our solar system, according to an announcement from University of Warwick in the U.K. on April 7, 2021. The atmosphere is much richer in carbon than expected, revealing that the planet didn’t always orbit as close to its star as we see it now. Instead, these astronomers believe, the giant gas planet was formed much farther out in its star system and has migrated inwards to its current close location.
Osiris now orbits very closely around its ...

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