Researchers suppose a planet misplaced its unique ambiance, constructed a brand new one

Rendering of a hazy planet.

Enlarge / Artist’s conception of the Earth-sized planet and its ambiance. (credit score: NASA, ESA, and R. Harm (IPAC/Caltech))

The ambiance most planets begin with is usually not the identical because the one they find yourself with. A lot of the gasoline current on the formation of a photo voltaic system might be hydrogen and helium. However a glance by way of the rocky planets of our Photo voltaic System reveals three very completely different atmospheres (and one very tenuous one), with hydrogen and helium being comparatively minor parts. And, as we acquire the flexibility to take a look at the atmospheres of exoplanets, we should always get a better perspective of all of the ways in which atmospheres can change as their planets age.

This week, a global staff of astronomers reported discovering an environment on a planet the place one would not be anticipated to exist. And the astronomers recommend that it is truly the planet’s second ambiance, generated by volcanic exercise after the primary was boiled off early within the planet’s historical past.

Imaging atmospheres

Basically, we do not at the moment have the know-how to picture exoplanets except they’re very massive, very younger, and a substantial distance from the star they orbit. But we are able to nonetheless get some sense of what is of their ambiance. To do this, we have to observe a planet that transits throughout the road of sight between Earth and its star. Throughout a transit, a small share of the star’s mild will journey by way of the planet’s ambiance on its technique to Earth, interacting with the molecules current there.

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