Wednesday, May 9, 2018
The helium for the first time on a planet outside of our solar system
The international teams of astronomers have detected helium in the atmosphere of WASP-107b. It is the first time that this chemical element has been detected in the atmosphere of an exoplanet.
The astronomers, led by Jessica Spake, of the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom, usedthe Hubble Space Telescope, NASA and ESA, to perform such detection.
Helium is the most abundant element in the universe after hydrogen. It is also one of the main components of the planets Jupiter and Saturn in our solar system. However, until now no helium had been detected in exoplanets, despite having sought it.
Spake's team made the detection by analyzing the infrared spectrum of the atmosphere of WASP-107b. Previous detections of exoplanet atmospheres as extensive as this one had been done by studying the spectrum at wavelengths of the ultraviolet band and that of visible light; this detection, therefore, demonstrates that exoplanetary atmospheres like this can also be studied at longer wavelengths.
The artistic activity of the exoplanet WASP-107b here seen as like as a black ball with its star just behind.
The measurement of the atmosphere of an exoplanet is carried out when it passes in front of its star. The greater the amount of an element present in the atmosphere, the easier the detection is.
WASP-107b is one of the planets with lower density among all known: although the planet is similar in size to Jupiter, it only has 12 percent of its mass. The exoplanet is about 200 light-years from Earth and it takes less than six days to turn its star around, due to how close it is to it.
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