Topics

Grinnell College
Water vapor detected in clear skies on Neptune-sized exoplanet
Water vapor detected in clear skies on Neptune-sized exoplanet

Eureka! Astronomers say they’ve discovered clear skies and water vapor on a Neptune-sized exoplanet named HAT-P-11b -- which, at roughly four times the Earth's radius, is the smallest planet yet known to host water in its atmosphere. The discovery, described in the journal Nature, marks a milestone for scientists seeking to learn whether even smaller planets in far-off solar systems have atmospheres comparable to Earth’s. Finding exoplanets is difficult enough, but examining the molecular contents of their atmospheres is even harder. Scientists wait for the planets to pass in front of their stars and then examine the starlight that filters through the translucent gassy...

Loading