A planet with a stratosphere has been discovered.
Remember the recent publication about the detection of the atmosphere on the planet GJ 1132b? The theme of space discoveries continues! Now a planet with a stratosphere has also been discovered.
A group of deep space researchers from different countries, led by scientists from the University of Exeter (UK), have discovered the presence of a stratosphere in the giant planet, called WASP-121b, located about 900 light-years from the Solar System. Of course, this is not without the Hubble telescope, which is constantly in orbit around the Earth…
WASP-121b is a gas giant whose atmosphere, due to its proximity to the Star, is so hot that iron boils in it. It has a mass and radius greater than that of “our ” gas giant-Jupiter, and the period of rotation around the native Star is 1.3 earth days. The results of research in previous decades only suggested the possibility of the existence of a stratosphere on planets of this class. And here WASP-121b surprises the scientist with the presence of the stratosphere. To study this layer, the researchers used spectroscopy.
Drake Deming, a professor of astronomy and one of the participants in the research process, said in an interview that the stratosphere of the giant planet is so hot that it causes water vapor, which, in turn, becomes the subject of analysis.
The method is as follows: in the process of observing WASP-121b in a range of waves of different lengths, the group measures and analyzes changes in the brightness of the planet. The water temperature affects the behavior of atmospheric vapors. For example, the low temperature regime of planetary vapors in the stratosphere blocks the light of a specific wavelength emitted into space by the lower layers of the planet’s atmosphere. Conversely, high temperatures contribute to the glow of water molecules in the stratosphere, which is observed in the same wavelength value.
This phenomenon is similar in physical and chemical processes that occur during fireworks. The color of the salute directly depends on the chemical elements that emit energy, burning up after a salvo. In the process of heating and evaporation of chemicals (metals), the electrons pass to another energy level. Depending on the type of chemical substances, the electrons emit light in the wavelength range of a particular wavelength. For example, the orange-yellow color is the product of sodium evaporation. Strontium in the process of evaporation gives off a red color.
By the same principle, the water molecules of the stratosphere of WASP-121b produce a glow when they lose energy. The only difference is that the human eye is not able to record this process, since planetary fireworks occur in infrared light. An international team of researchers has suggested that the heat sources on the exoplanet may be vanadium or titanium oxides, which, like the Earth’s ozone layer, absorb the light of the Star in visible wavelengths. Such compounds can occur exclusively on the hottest gas giants, which, without a doubt, is WASP-121b.
Some planets in the Solar System also boast a stratosphere. In the first place, of course, the Land. The temperature of its stratosphere increases the ultraviolet radiation emitted by the Sun. The stratosphere of Jupiter and its natural satellite Titan is “heated” by methane. However, for the planets of the Solar System, the increase in the temperature regime of the stratosphere does not exceed the mark of +1000 C. On the discovered gas giant WASP-121b, the temperature indicators of the upper layer of the atmosphere are kept at around 10,000 C. This allows the giant planet to maintain its gas state.