NASA Recreated The Atmosphere Of A “Hot Jupiter” Exoplanet In The Lab

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The harsh conditions present on some exoplanet are fascinating, and some researchers want to learn more about them. A team of researchers from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory employed a creative method which allowed them to recreate the conditions which would be encountered on a “hot Jupiter” exoplanet.

A high-power device was used in the experiment in which a mixture of hydrogen and carbon dioxide was heated up 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit (or approximately 1,100 degrees Celsius.) The temperature was on par with that of molten lava.

Exoplanets are planets which can be found beyond the limits of a solar system. In this case, the researchers wanted to learn more about “hot Jupiter” planets which are gas giants that feature a peculiar orbit. The orbit is very close to the home star, and orbits like that were not observed in our solar system.

The atmosphere of a “hot Jupiter” exoplanet, reproduced in the lab by NASA

At first, the scientists used a basic mixture of hydrogen and 0.3 % carbon monoxide which was heated to a temperature which ranged between 330 and 1,230 degrees Celsius. The mixture was also exposed to a high amount of ultraviolet radiation.

The experiment conveyed exciting information about the alien atmosphere of a “hot Jupiter” exoplanet. The atmosphere of real planets was quite opaque, even when clods were unable to form. The artificial atmosphere which was created in the lab became opaque after exposure to UV light led to the appearance of organic aerosols. These results will allow researchers to understand how the atmosphere of a “hot Jupiter” exoplanet works.

The team is now working on the mechanisms which lead to the formation of solid aerosols. The primary goal is to learn how they can absorb ultraviolet radiation. It would also be interesting to see if other factors like environmental changes can influence them. The study has also shown that a lot of water is produced as chemical reactions take place. The results have been published in a peer-reviewed journal.


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