Webb Space Telescope detects quartz crystals in WASP-17 b exoplanet's ecosystem

Webb Space Telescope detects quartz crystals in WASP-17 b exoplanet's ecosystem

Last updated 7 month ago

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exoplanets

Webb Space Telescope detects quartz crystals in WASP-17 b exoplanet's ecosystem



WASP-17 b is a "hot Jupiter" type exoplanet that orbits a bunch star positioned 1,three hundred mild years away from Earth. This gasoline massive is one of the three goals in the JWST-powered "Deep Reconnaissance of Exoplanet Atmospheres the use of Multi-instrument Spectroscopy" (DREAMS) investigations, and it has already supplied researchers with unexpected statistics.

WASP-17 b's environment is pretty harsh and includes aerosols, that are tiny silicon dioxide debris, normally referred to as silicate. Silicate is a mineral plentiful in silicon and oxygen, often located on Earth and different rocky items in the form of quartz. Silicate grains recognized in the atmospheres of exoplanets and brown dwarf stars within the past have been commonly wealthy in magnesium, now not quartz. However, WASP-17 b has verified to be an exception.

A team of scientists from NASA and the University of Bristol hired the Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) at the James Webb Telescope to look at this huge planet. They to begin with predicted to discover magnesium silicates suspended in the planet's dense environment but had been surprised to discover pure quartz particles (SiO2) as an alternative. With a extent over seven instances that of Jupiter and half of the mass, WASP-17 b ranks amongst the most important exoplanets ever determined.

The team carried out observations of the planet for nearly 10 hours, obtaining over 1,275 "brightness measurements" in the infrared range of the electromagnetic spectrum, especially between 5 and 12 microns. The researchers hired a method called "transmission spectroscopy," which includes measuring the impact of a planet's environment because it passes in front of its host megastar.

JWST gadgets detected a distinct "bump" at 8.6 microns, which the scientists provide an explanation for is a clean indicator of quartz being gift inside the clouds enveloping WASP-17 b. Additionally, by means of the usage of observations in visible and close to-infrared mild gathered with the venerable Hubble Space Telescope, the group managed to calculate the dimensions of the aerosol crystals, which turned out to be about 10 nanometers in diameter.

The discovery of oxygen-wealthy silicates in WASP-17 b's atmosphere holds extensive importance, because the scientists emphasize. They point out that if we best account for the oxygen in gaseous form and neglect the oxygen stored inside minerals like quartz (SiO2), we would extensively underestimate the entire oxygen abundance in a planet's surroundings.

WASP-17 b is one of the 3 exoplanets selected for the DREAMS research plan, that is designed to acquire a "comprehensive" variety of observations related to various kinds of celestial gadgets. The plan's objectives encompass a "hot Jupiter" (WASP-17 b), a "warm Neptune," and a temperate rocky planet.

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