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Earth-Sized Exoplanet's Atmosphere Detected

Posted April 07, 2017 9:04 AM by Bayes

I came across this article and thought I would pass it along. One of the next steps in the observations of exoplanets is to see if they have atmospheres and to, if possible, characterize those atmospheres. It's good to see that scientists are already making progress in this area!

Atmosphere containing water detected around rocky exoplanet

An Earth-sized planet orbiting a dim star 39 light years away has a hazy atmosphere that could indicate the presence of a “water world”. It is one of the first times astronomers have been able to detect an atmosphere surrounding a small rocky

planet. Similar observations using the next generation of powerful telescopes could be used to look for life outside the solar system.

Until now, scientists have mostly been able to spot the atmospheres of giant “hot Jupiter” exoplanets that are very unlikely to support life. The super-Earth planet GJ 1132b was observed as it passed in front of a cool red dwarf star, blocking out some of the star’s light. By measuring the slight drop in the star’s brightness, astronomers were able to work out that the planet was 1.4 times the size of Earth. They also found that in one light wavelength band, the planet looked slightly bigger. This could be explained by an atmosphere that was opaque to some light wavelengths, but transparent to others.

“While this is not the detection of life on another planet, it’s an important step in the right direction,” says John Southworth at the University of Keele, who led the team. The detection of an atmosphere around GJ 1132b marks the first time that an atmosphere has been detected around a planet less than twice the size of Earth. Previously, we had seen a waterless atmosphere around the planet 55 Cancri e, which is between 6 and 8 times Earth’s mass.

The Article Can Be Found Here

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#1

Re: Earth-Sized Exoplanet's Atmosphere Detected

04/07/2017 10:22 AM

It would be exciting if they could detect methane or oxygen, indicators of possible life.

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#2

Re: Earth-Sized Exoplanet's Atmosphere Detected

04/07/2017 1:12 PM

Exciting,... it raising so many questions...

How big is the cool red dwarf star it orbits?, and how far away is this planet from the star?, How long does it take this planet to orbit the star?, can they be able to detect a moon around this planet?

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#16
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Re: Earth-Sized Exoplanet's Atmosphere Detected

04/08/2017 11:18 AM

It orbits only 1.4 million miles from its host star (about 5.9 times the avg. Earth-Moon distance), with an orbital period of about 1.6 Earth days. Very close, and so it's hot. Its infrared signature indicates the top of its atmosphere is around 500 F (260 C). Its surface could be as hot or hotter than Venus. Whether it has a moon or not is unknown.

I have my doubts that it may be a water/steam world as suggested in the article. UV from its host star would disassociate water molecules at the top of its atmosphere, the low-mass hydrogen driven off into space first followed the heavier oxygen at a slower rate. Even though red dwarfs are comparatively cool and so not intrinsically bright in UV, they're often flare stars, the flares producing copious amounts of UV and X-rays, though Gliese 1132 must be fairly quiet in this respect, given that its planet has an atmosphere at all and given its close proximity to the star. It receives around 20 times the stellar radiation from its star as Earth does from the Sun. It is far too hot to harbour life, or at least life as we know it.

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#3

Re: Earth-Sized Exoplanet's Atmosphere Detected

04/07/2017 1:50 PM

is housing affordable?

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#4
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Re: Earth-Sized Exoplanet's Atmosphere Detected

04/07/2017 2:03 PM

Housing is free, it's the move that will cost you.

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#5
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Re: Earth-Sized Exoplanet's Atmosphere Detected

04/07/2017 2:41 PM

I heard this planet does have border policies about illegal aliens such as yourself... better get your paper work in order or you'll be turned away at the border...

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#15
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Re: Earth-Sized Exoplanet's Atmosphere Detected

04/08/2017 9:13 AM

So how are they going to build a wall between Earth and themselves?

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#6
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Re: Earth-Sized Exoplanet's Atmosphere Detected

04/07/2017 3:29 PM

You better get going, with current technology, it should take you only 780,000 years to get there.

Better yet, If you have a way to travel at the speed of light, you could be to Pluto in about 4 and a half hours. I hear Pluto is nice this time of year.

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Re: Earth-Sized Exoplanet's Atmosphere Detected

04/07/2017 8:27 PM

Hope he packs a lunch,... sounds like it could be a long trip.

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#9
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Re: Earth-Sized Exoplanet's Atmosphere Detected

04/07/2017 10:32 PM

We'll miss him; I guess.

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#12
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Re: Earth-Sized Exoplanet's Atmosphere Detected

04/08/2017 4:17 AM

I guess that subject is still being debated... I hear there's a "Go Fund Me" page started... someone made a first donation of a 3 dollar Bill. . I guess it came from a large crooked tax exempt political foundation.

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#8
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Re: Earth-Sized Exoplanet's Atmosphere Detected

04/07/2017 9:58 PM

From our perspective he will take four and half hours to get there. From his perspective, at the speed of light, he will leave Earth and arrive on Pluto in the same instant. No need to pack a lunch. Travelling at the speed of light does funny things like that.

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Re: Earth-Sized Exoplanet's Atmosphere Detected

04/08/2017 4:23 AM

Maybe he can take a member with him to keep him company and play cards and talk, discuss, argue politics to pass the time... do you know of anyone that fits this bill.

plus, that would be our first export to this planet,... it may not be much, but it's a start... and by export,... I mean the politics, not Fred and Lyn... that charge a stiff tariff on those two... or mistake them as workers to build their high speed rail or something... and then expect us to ship them more... Washington DC isn't big enough.

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#19
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Re: Earth-Sized Exoplanet's Atmosphere Detected

04/21/2017 2:17 AM

Don't start.

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#10

Re: Earth-Sized Exoplanet's Atmosphere Detected

04/07/2017 11:12 PM

Note that the OP's quote, and the original article, state that "a atmosphere" had been detected. The article goes on to say that the researchers had then simulated various combinations of gases to fit their readings. So, it was not a direct detection of atmospheric gases, but the detection of an atmosphere.

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#11
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Re: Earth-Sized Exoplanet's Atmosphere Detected

04/08/2017 12:25 AM

Yes. It was not analysed spectroscopically except in the very broadest photometric sense at different wavelengths. "Okay, what sort of atmospheric mix might produce a similar photometric profile?" more or less. It may not even consist of that mix but some other one that produces a similar profile. Ah well, they've got to start somewhere and this is a good first approximation.

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#14
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Re: Earth-Sized Exoplanet's Atmosphere Detected

04/08/2017 4:25 AM

I was wondering how they would have detected an atomosphere considering, when the only way they detected it in the first place was when it passed in front of the star and observed the dimming affect on the star it made, thanks.

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#17
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Re: Earth-Sized Exoplanet's Atmosphere Detected

04/08/2017 11:59 AM

"They also found that in one light wavelength band, the planet looked slightly bigger. This could be explained by an atmosphere that was opaque to some light wavelengths, but transparent to others."

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#18

Re: Earth-Sized Exoplanet's Atmosphere Detected

04/08/2017 12:25 PM

"Atmosphere containing water detected around rocky exoplanet"

No. Its atmospheric composition has not been determined.

Be careful taking articles from New Scientist at face-value. They're not the most reputable source, often 're-engineering' (I'm being polite) the original content to make it more appealing to the public. N.S. is a borderline 'clickbait' site. Beware.

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