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NASA's Hubble Captures Blistering Pitch-Black Planet

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Owlscrying
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Unread post Fri Sep 15, 2017 8:56 am

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has observed a planet outside our solar system that looks as black as fresh asphalt because it eats light rather than reflecting it back into space. This light-eating prowess is due to the planet's unique capability to trap at least 94 percent of the visible starlight falling into its atmosphere.

The oddball exoplanet, called WASP-12b, is one of a class of so-called "hot Jupiters," gigantic, gaseous planets that orbit very close to their host star and are heated to extreme temperatures. The planet's atmosphere is so hot that most molecules are unable to survive on the blistering day side of the planet, where the temperature is 4,600 degrees Fahrenheit. Therefore, clouds probably cannot form to reflect light back into space. Instead, incoming light penetrates deep into the planet's atmosphere where it is absorbed by hydrogen atoms and converted to heat energy.

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Owlscrying
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Unread post Fri Sep 15, 2017 8:58 am

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Credits: NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon (STScI)

The day side of the planet, called WASP-12b, eats light rather than reflects it into space. The exoplanet, which is twice the size of Jupiter, has the unique capability to trap at least 94 percent of the visible starlight falling into its atmosphere. The temperature of the atmosphere is a seething 4,600 degrees Fahrenheit, which is as hot as a small star. The night side is much cooler, with temperatures roughly 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit, which allows water vapor and clouds to form

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Owlscrying
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Unread post Fri Sep 15, 2017 9:21 am



A ‘glowing’ water atmosphere has been detected on an enormous super-hot exoplanet, offering the strongest evidence yet for a stratosphere on a planet outside our solar system.

Researchers using data from NASA’s Hubble telescope observed hot water molecules on WASP-121b, a type of exoplanet called a ‘hot Jupiter.’

This is the first time glowing water molecules were observed on an exoplanet – a planet orbiting a star outside our solar system – and indicates a stratosphere on an exoplanet, researchers said.

A stratosphere is a layer of atmosphere, in which temperature increases with higher altitudes. On Earth, it lies some 50km overhead.

Earth’s stratosphere is particularly important for life on the planet, as it holds the ozone layer — the shield which protects Earth’s surface from most of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation.

 
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