Discover How NASA’s Hubble Unveiled Water Vapor on Tiny Exoplanet GJ 9827d

January 26, 2024
1 min read
This is an artist's concept of the exoplanet GJ 9827d, the smallest exoplanet where water vapor has been detected in the atmosphere. The planet could be an example of potential planets with water-rich atmospheres elsewhere in our galaxy. With only about twice Earth's diameter, the planet orbits the red dwarf star GJ 9827. Two inner planets in the system are on the left. The background stars are plotted as they would be seen to the unaided eye looking back toward our Sun. The Sun is too faint to be seen. The blue star at upper right is Regulus; the yellow star at center bottom is Denebola; and the blue star at bottom right is Spica. The constellation Leo is on the left, and Virgo is on the right. Both constellations are distorted from our Earth-bound view from 97 light-years away.
This is an artist's concept of the exoplanet GJ 9827d, the smallest exoplanet where water vapor has been detected in the atmosphere. The planet could be an example of potential planets with water-rich atmospheres elsewhere in our galaxy. With only about twice Earth's diameter, the planet orbits the red dwarf star GJ 9827. Two inner planets in the system are on the left. The background stars are plotted as they would be seen to the unaided eye looking back toward our Sun. The Sun is too faint to be seen. The blue star at upper right is Regulus; the yellow star at center bottom is Denebola; and the blue star at bottom right is Spica. The constellation Leo is on the left, and Virgo is on the right. Both constellations are distorted from our Earth-bound view from 97 light-years away. P.C- Google

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has identified water vapor in the atmosphere of exoplanet GJ 9827d, a noteworthy finding in the field of exoplanetary science. The exoplanet, which is located 97 light-years away in the constellation Pisces, is roughly twice as big as Earth and revolves around a red dwarf star every 6.2 days. The fact that atmospheric water vapor has been detected on the tiniest exoplanet, GJ 9827d, makes this accomplishment noteworthy.

This discovery, made under the direction of Université de Montréal in Canada, was released in The Astrophysical Journal Letters. Björn Benneke from Université de Montréal emphasized the importance of this discovery, saying, “This would be the first time that we can directly show through an atmospheric detection that these planets with water-rich atmospheres can actually exist around other stars.” This finding contributes to our understanding of the diversity of rocky planet atmospheres.

Two possible possibilities about the atmosphere of GJ 9827d have been suggested. It might be a larger counterpart of Jupiter’s moon Europa, which has substantial water reserves beneath its surface, or a miniature Neptune, with a hydrogen-rich atmosphere dotted with water. According to ideas about the planet’s creation, it may have originated far from its star, in a zone with a lot of water ice and a lower temperature, before moving to its present location. Alternatively, there’s a chance that the planet formed close to its blazing star and had some water in its atmosphere.


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If the planet’s atmosphere is mostly made of water vapor, it must be a hot, steamy place given its high temperatures, which are comparable to those of Venus at about 800 degrees Fahrenheit. The discovery of atmospheric water vapor was made possible by the Hubble Space Telescope’s investigation, which comprised 11 transits of the planet across its star over a three-year period. This is conceivable because water vapor may be detected above clouds since the planet’s clouds are low enough to not hinder Hubble’s view.

Astrophysicist Thomas Greene of NASA’s Ames Research Center emphasized the discovery’s wider ramifications. “Observing water is a gateway to finding other things,” he said, highlighting how the James Webb Space Telescope’s next research on these planets will be made possible by this Hubble discovery. Other infrared wavelengths that the JWST can observe may reveal other compounds, such as methane, carbon dioxide, and carbon monoxide.

Govind Tekale

Embarking on a new journey post-retirement, Govind, once a dedicated teacher, has transformed his enduring passion for current affairs and general knowledge into a conduit for expression through writing. His historical love affair with reading, which borders on addiction, has evolved into a medium to articulate his thoughts and disseminate vital information. Govind pens down his insights on a myriad of crucial topics, including the environment, wildlife, energy, sustainability, and health, weaving through every aspect that is quintessential for both our existence and that of our planet. His writings not only mirror his profound understanding and curiosity but also serve as a valuable resource, offering a deep dive into issues that are critical to our collective future and well-being.

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