A team of scientists has discovered clouds of sand in motion in a distant planet’s atmosphere. The planet has a 22-hour day and are constantly orbiting two stars for thousands of years. The study is published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.
The group, which included researchers from the University of Exeter in the UK made the discovery after analyzing the data from the James Webb Space Telescope telescope.
Through the telescope, the researchers were able to observe the movement of the clouds, which were pushing and bringing up hotter materials on a planetary-mass companion, 40 light-years away from Earth. known as VHS 1256 b.
The researchers were able to identify the largest concentration of molecules ever found on a planet outside of our solar system. They also detected traces of carbon dioxide and water.
The discovery demonstrates the immense capabilities of the James Webb Space Telescope, said Sasha Hinkley, professor at the University of Exeter. It also highlights the hard work and dedication of the scientists and engineers who made it possible, she added.
Due to the low gravity of the planet, the clouds of sand and silicate particles that are in the planet’s atmosphere can remain higher in the atmosphere.
According to the study, the planet is only 150 million years old, which means it is still young. It also has strong winds that can affect the movement of the clouds.
Although the researchers were able to identify silicates, they were still not able to determine the exact sizes and shapes of the clouds. This finding marks the start of a process that will allow them to study the complex data collected by Webb.
The discovery provides valuable information on how different clouds can appear on other planets. These silicate clouds, which are characterized by their fine-grained consistency, are like sandstorms in the atmosphere of another planet.
The study’s findings provide valuable information on how different types of clouds can appear on different planets. It is a significant step in our knowledge of planetary-mass objects.
The researchers used the data collected by Webb’s two instruments, namely the Near-infrared Spectrograph and the Mid-infrared Instrument.
Since the planet’s distance from its stars allowed the researchers to observe it directly, instead of using a coronagraph or transit technique, they were able to make their observations.