Alien world with an atmosphere

Alien world with an atmosphere

Fig. 16.10 . An artistís portrayal of a giant Jupiter-size planet passing in front of the star HD 19973, which lies about 63 light-years away. It is so close to its parent star that it takes just over two days to complete an orbit. In 2007, the spectral signatures of water vapor were observed in the atmosphere of the hot, transiting exoplanet using an instrument aboard the Spitzer Space Telescope, and confirmed by observations from the Hubble Space Telescope, which also revealed molecules of methane and carbon dioxide. Also in 2007, a spectrograph on the small ground-based InfraRed Telescope Facility, with a mirror diameter of just 3.0 meters, was used to detect carbon doxide and methane in the atmosphere of HD 18973b. Although these organic molecules are also found in living things on Earth, the planet is so massive and so hot that it is considered an unlikely habitat for life. (Courtesy of ESA/C. Carreau.)

Copyright 2010, Professor Kenneth R. Lang, Tufts University