Having one majestic giant planet in our solar system is one thing, but finding another “almost” similar one 600 light years away is another.
Astronomers with the Centre for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian have found a planet, similar in mass (and maybe even looks) as Jupiter but there’s only difference – there are no clouds in this one.
WASP-62b is unique in its own way
- They are the rarest and scarce type of planets; there are only 7% of exoplanets like this one.
- Due to its “no cloud” situation, it opens the door to curiosity and further research.
- It is the only planet in its main-sequence star WASP-62 and it completes its revolution in 4-5 days.
- It is 1.4 times the size of Jupiter with the temperature of 1330 K (1057 C; 1934 F).
The story goes like this. This planet’s discovery was among the 7 hot Jupiter-like exoplanets discovered back in 2012 and its name WASP comes from the abbreviation Wide Angle Search for Planets. At first, it was just like any other discovery where the astronomers look for traces of sodium and potassium using spectroscopy searching mechanisms to study the planet’s atmosphere.
Surprisingly, WASP-62b came out with full sodium’s spectre signature but no potassium present. This meant the atmosphere was clear with no clouds.
Lead author of the study is Munazza Alam said that, “Sodium and potassium are two species that are readily observable in exoplanet atmosphere observations taken at optical wavelengths, and their presence or absence can help us infer if there are clouds or hazes in an exoplanet’s atmosphere”
A discovery like this, will not just help the astronomers study its atmosphere, but it paves way to learn more about other elements present that will help them trace back the origins and evolution of the planet.
The only other cloud-free exoplanet that we know of is the hot Saturn named WASP-96b, found in 2018.
With all this data, I cannot wait for the James Webb Space Telescope to examine this exoplanet’s atmosphere more closely that will answer these mysteries and more.