Using state-of-the-art technology, a team of astronomers at the Keck Observatory has open water in the atmosphere of the exoplanet At 179 light-years from ours. It is HR 8799 c, which is in the solar system that rotates around the star HR 8799.
In 2008, scientists reported that with Keck and Gemini telescopes, they directly observed three exoplanets around the above-mentioned star: HR 8799b, c and d. Then in 2010 they reported on the discovery of the fourth planet, HR 8799 e.
The present study is based on the data obtained in 2008. The new observations with direct images are from HR 8779 c, a giant planet with approximately seven times the mass of Jupiter, the colossus of our solar system that takes 200 years in orbit around his star.
The data obtained from this possibility, according to the authors, would confirm the presence of water in the atmosphere, as well as of the lack of methane in him.
— Technologies —
To reach this conclusion, the researchers used a a combination of two technologies for a Keck telescopeThe first is an adaptive optics that counteracts the diffuse effects of the earth's atmosphere. The second is a Keck 2 telescope called Echelle Near Infrared Cryogenic Spectrograph (NIRSPEC), a high-resolution spectrometer that uses infrared light.
According to Dimitri Mawet, a professor at Caltech and co-author of the study, he explains:
"This type of technology is exactly what we want to use in the future to look for signs of life on a planet like Earth, we are not there yet, but we are moving forward."
— Research —
The new findings were published in the magazine Astronomical JournalThe leading author is Ji Wang, a former post-graduate student at Kaltech, and now an assistant professor at the Ohio State University.
So far, astronomers have photographed more than a dozen exoplanets. The HR 8799 system is the first multiplanar system to directly capture images. But this is only the first step in this study.
Once taken, the images can be analyzed for the chemical composition in their atmospheres. This is where spectroscopy occurs. In this case, the advanced skills of NIRSPEC are key.
NIRSPEC is a tool that works in the L-range infrared. This is a type of infrared light with a wavelength of approximately 3.5 micrometers and a spectrum region with large, detailed chemical imprints.
"The L group has been neglected earlier because the sky is brighter at that wavelength, if you were an alien with eyes compatible with the L group, you would see an extremely bright sky, it's hard to see an exoplanet veil," explains Mawet.
By combining the adaptive optics group, they were able to make the most accurate measurements on the planet, thus confirming the presence of water and the absence of methane.
With information from the universe today and Busness Insider