The “thin” exoplanet: In this illustration, WASP-107b orbits its star.Photo: Lucca School of Art, Belgium/Klaas Verbuest
Astronomers have closely examined the exoplanet WASP-107b and discovered something unusual. It’s raining sand on Cotton Candy Planet.
Thanks to increasingly advanced technology, science can make new discoveries in all possible fields – including astronomy. A lot is happening in astrology right now. Distant galaxies, planets and stars are constantly being discovered and researched.
Researchers recently used the James Webb Telescope to get a closer look at an exoplanet a full 200 light-years from Earth. They described their astonishing observations in the journal Nature. An exoplanet (also exoplanet) is a planet orbiting a star other than our Sun.
The exoplanet called WASP-107b has a unique property – it is “thin”. The gas giant has a very low density for its size. It is similar in size to Jupiter, but its mass is only about a tenth of its mass. As a result, WASP-107b is literally bloated and almost looks like cotton candy – which is why it’s also called the “cotton candy planet.”
Exoplanets have many unusual properties
Astronomers from the university Paris Cité has now examined the exoplanet’s atmosphere in more detail. They discovered that it consists of water vapor, sulfur dioxide, and clouds of silicates – that is, sand. The composition is unusual in many ways.
For example, other gas planets of this size do not have a high concentration of sulfur dioxide. In addition, there is no methane in WASP-107b’s atmosphere – even though popular models predict that such planets should contain a lot of methane. “Given the expected dominance of methane, this raises questions,” Nature says.
Another interesting discovery is dense clouds of silicon dioxide, i.e. sand. The researchers suspect that strong currents are constantly carrying evaporating silicon dioxide upwards from the planet’s hot, deep layers, where it then condenses into clouds: “This is similar to the water vapor and cloud cycle on Earth, but with sand droplets.” Therefore, sand rained on WASP-107b.
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