Saturday, 15 Dec 2018

Researchers have recreated the chemistry of atmospheres on distant planets for the first time


IllustrationIllustration -  Researchers have recreated the chemical atmosphere on a distant planet for the first time in a laboratory.

The researchers found that the fog, like the hydrocarbons that envelop Saturn's Titan moon, could be produced in a class of exoplanets known as super-Earth and mini-Neptunes. Exoplanets, or extra-solar planets, orbit stars other than our own.

Chemical clouds and clouds can affect surface temperatures and planetary potential to support life.

"We are very excited to know where the particle forms, what the materials are made of, and what organic supplies mean for the origin of life," Dr. Sarah Hörst, lead author of the study, published in Nature Astronomy, as quoted by BBC News, Monday, March 12, 2018.

"I think we are going to learn a lot about our Solar System from doing this experiment. We do not want to learn about a single planet, we want to learn how planets work."

Super-Earth and mini-Neptunes are the most common group of exoplanets found so far.

The nearest super-Earth, Proxima b, is more than 40 trillion km from Earth, making it very difficult to observe in detail.

The James Webb Space Telescope, to be launch in 2019, will be able to look more closely at the atmospheres of exoplanets and potentially hunt for signs of life.

Dr Hörst hopes that his team's work will be helpful in ruling out the wrong organic markings, but he notes that the results suggest exoplanets may be able to create building blocks for life.

"If there is life on such planets, it is possible that people are capable of creating atmosphere and can play a role in origin or evolution."



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