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Meet an exoplanet with infernal atmosphere

Mon, Apr 13, 2015, 01:25 PM
London, April 13 , 2015: For the first time, researchers have discovered an exoplanet with infernal atmospheric conditions -- wind speeds of more than 1,000 km per hour and the temperature of 1,650 degrees Celsius.

With these conditions, the HD189733b exoplanet's atmosphere is truly turbulent.

"These results open up perspectives to approach the study of exoplanet atmospheres," said researchers from the Planets National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) and universities of Geneva (UNIGE) and Bern, Switzerland.

For this, they measured the temperature of the atmosphere of an exoplanet by crossing two approaches.

The first approach is based on the HARPS spectrometer and the second consists of a new way of interpreting sodium lines.

The HARPS spectrometer, an instrument designed at the UNIGE Observatory, is installed on a telescope of the European Star Observatory (ESO)in Chile.

When there is an atmosphere, sodium is the source of a clearly recognisable signal whose intensity varies at the time when the planet passes before its star, an event called transit.

Aurelien Wyttenbach, researcher at the UNIGE, has been able to detect variations in sodium lines during several transits of HD189733b.

"These findings consequently open up the path of exploring exoplanet atmospheres with tools that are more accessible than giant or space telescopes," the researchers noted.

The papers were published in two journals -- Astronomy & Astrophysics and Astrophysical Journal Letters.
Agency: IANS
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