An international collaboration of astronomers led by a researcher from the Astrobiology Center and Queen’s University Belfast, and including researchers from Trinity College Dublin, has detected a new chemical signature in the atmosphere of an extrasolar planet (a planet that orbits a star other than our Sun).
The hydroxyl radical (OH) was found on the dayside of the exoplanet WASP-33b. This planet is a so-called “ultra-hot Jupiter”, a gas-giant planet orbiting its host star much closer than Mercury orbits the Sun and therefore reaching atmospheric temperatures of more than 2,500° C (hot enough to melt most metals).
The lead researcher based at the Astrobiology Center and Queen’s University Belfast, Dr Stevanus Nugroho, said: “This is the first direct evidence of OH in the atmosphere of a planet beyond the Solar System. It shows not only that astronomers can detect this molecule in exoplanet atmospheres, but also that they can begin to understand the detailed chemistry of this planetary population.” [Read more…] about Astronomers detect first ever hydroxyl molecule signature in an exoplanet atmosphere
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