A study conducted lately by a team of international researchers at the University of Cambridge and the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) in Spain has discovered some strange traces of metals in the atmosphere an exoplanet known as WASP-127b.
The WASP-127b is a huge gaseous world having moderately clear skies. This distant exoplanet having a surface temperature of near about fourteen hundred Kelvin (eleven hundred twenty-seven degrees Celsius), is a giant body with a radius that is around 1.4 times bigger as compared to the Jupiter. However, the mass of this exoplanet is just twenty percent of the mass of the Jupiter. The WASP-127b is such that it not comparable with any of the celestial bodies in our Solar System and is the most distinct of its kind. This exoplanet takes only 4 days to make one complete orbit around its host star.
The study of the WASP-127b brought to light the existence of massive amounts of alkali metal along with potassium, lithium, and sodium in its atmosphere. This is the very first time that existence of metals was detected in an exoplanet. As said by the researchers the reason behind the exoplanet’s clear skies could be the high absorbing power of potassium and sodium. According to the reports of the study, the skies of the exoplanet are near about fifty percent clear.
The first author of the study, Dr. Guo Chen at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, said in a statement, “The particular characteristics of this planet allowed us to perform a detailed study of its rich atmospheric composition.” Further, the researcher added, “The presence of lithium is important to understand the evolutionary history of the planetary system and could shed light on the mechanisms of planet formation.”
As revealed by the study, the exoplanet’s parent star, WASP-127, also showed an abundance of lithium in its atmosphere. This made the researchers to point out that the star could be a massive red body, many hundred times brighter as compared to the Sun. The study also found certain evidences of water on the surface of the exoplanet.
All the observations of the exoplanet in the study were made using the Gran Telescopio Canarias (GTC) and the study was published in the Astronomy & Astrophysics journal.