The Webb telescope discovered the most poisonous atmosphere on an exoplanet: sulfur oxide was found in it
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Scientists have found new chemicals in the composition of the planet WASP-39b, which is 700 light-years away from us .
The Webb Space Telescope continues to study the exoplanet WASP-39b, which orbits very close to its star in the constellation Virgo, 700 light-years away. New data points to the gas giant's highly toxic atmosphere, writes Gizmodo.
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Scientists from the University of Oxford, UK, have presented a new study that has not yet been peer-reviewed, but it shows that there is a wide variety of chemical compounds and elements in the atmosphere of the planet WASP-39b.
WASP-exoplanet- 39b, which orbits a sun-like star, is a hot Jupiter. That is, it is similar to this planet in mass and size. To be more precise, its mass is one third less than the mass of Jupiter, and its size is one third larger than the gas giant from our solar system.
This planet revolves around its star in an orbit that Jupiter revolves around the Sun, which means that it is too hot there. It was discovered back in 2011, but it has already been under the scrutiny of the Webb Space Telescope several times. Focus already wrote that the telescope managed to detect the presence of carbon dioxide in its atmosphere. And this is the first such case for exoplanets.
A new study shows that WASP-39b's atmosphere contains more chemical compounds, including water, sulfur oxide, carbon monoxide, as well as sodium and potassium. And this makes the atmosphere of the planet incredibly poisonous.
“For the first time, we have witnessed the existence of photochemistry, that is, chemical reactions initiated by starlight on exoplanets. In particular, this concerns the presence of sulfur oxide, which indicates the toxicity of this atmosphere. With the help of the Webb telescope, we will be able to better understand the composition of the atmospheres of distant planets” , says Shang-Ming Tsai, of Oxford University.
To find out what the atmosphere of the planet WASP-39b consists of, the Webb telescope observed it at the time when it passed against the background of its star. When this happened, starlight illuminated the planet and Webb picked up the wavelength of this light in the infrared. Thanks to this, scientists were able to determine which chemicals are present in the atmosphere based on the wavelength of light they absorb.
Thanks to the instruments of the Webb telescope, scientists will be able to better understand the diversity of the compositions of the planets in the Milky Way and, of course, there is a chance to find signs of life on them. Temperatures are too high on WASP-39b for any living microorganisms to develop, but they can exist on much smaller, rocky planets that resemble Earth in composition.
The new study also found that WASP's atmosphere -39b chemical elements and compounds are not evenly distributed, but are in separate groups. Scientists suggest that this exoplanet formed over time as a result of the merger of planetesimals, that is, the building blocks of planets.
As for the formation of planets, Focus already wrote about the new discovery of scientists, who believe that the Earth and other planets of our star system appeared much earlier than expected.
The first stage of the formation of a new star was also observed by the Hubble Space Telescope, as Focus already wrote.< /p>
As for the evolution of planets, Focus has already written about a new study that reveals the reason why Venus did not become like Earth, although there were all the prerequisites for this.