Astronomers discover water in the atmosphere of HR 8799c planet

On November 23, astronomers have made new breakthroughs in the search for extraterrestrial life, and found that there is water in the atmosphere of the HR 8799c planet 179 light years away from the Earth, but lacks methane.

An astronomical group observed at the Keck Observatory in Mauna Kea, Hawaii, that gas planet HR 8799c has water in the atmosphere but lacks methane. The planet is located in Sagittarius. It is one of four planets orbiting the stellar HR 8799. It is seven times as large as Jupiter and 179 light-years from Earth.

HR 8799c planet

Exoplanet HR 8799c is about 7 times the size of Jupiter. (W. M. KECK OBSERVATORY/ADAM MAKARENKO/C. ALVAREZ)

 

HR 8799 system contains the first exoplanet to be directly imaged.

The HR 8799 system contains the first exoplanet to be directly imaged. (NRC-HIA/C. MAROIS/W. M. KECK OBSERVATORY)

The team combined high-resolution spectroscopy and adaptive optics to avoid the ambiguity of the Earth’s atmosphere, take pictures of the planet, and use a spectrometer to decompose the light of the planet to obtain a fingerprint of the chemical in the atmosphere.

HR 8799 Orbiting Exoplanets.gif

Although astronomers have taken photos of more than a dozen alien planets, HR 8799 is the only multi-planetary solar system that has been photographed so far. Experts now want to repeat this process for asteroids that are closer to their stars.

The goal of the Keck Observatory scientists is to look for chemicals that are suitable for life, such as water, oxygen, and methane, in the atmosphere of terrestrial planets. This goal may be achieved through a 30-meter telescope that will be put into use.

Sources:

Universetoday

Wikipedia post: HR 8799

Research Paper: Detecting Water in the Atmosphere of HR 8799 c 

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