An international team of scientists has recently discovered an exoplanet that has no clouds and they called it WASP-96b. In order to detect this very hot gas giant, the team used the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope in Chile. They managed to find out more about its atmospheric composition while the exoplanet was passing in front of its host star. This helped them a lot as the atmospheric makeup influences the light that is visible as the exoplanet passes in front of its host star.
This particular process creates a spectrum, and this is what the researchers can study from Earth. When it came to WASP-96b, the team observed clear signs of the element sodium. What was even more interesting was that usually, clouds hide these kinds of signatures. This was how the experts came to the conclusion that the exoplanet’s atmosphere must have no clouds at all. Actually, this is the first time that such a planet was discovered. According to study leader Nikolay Nikolov, this discovery is now a “benchmark for characterization.”
WASP-96b, the first planet without clouds in its atmosphere
According to the experts, this spectrum that they can observe has the shape of a tent. This is a rather unique and uncommon shape had never been observed before because it can only appear deep in the atmosphere. Most planets have clouds, which makes the tent shape very difficult to notice. This is why WASP-96b is so special among all the other planets.
Apart from these characteristics, the exoplanet is also very hot, at 1,900 degrees Fahrenheit or 1,000 Celsius, and incredibly large. Actually, it is 20% bigger than Jupiter. As for its mass, it’s similar to that of Saturn, hence the title of “hot Saturn”. It’s interesting because the team will gather some valuable information from the unique construction of this exoplanet which will maybe help future research.
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