The presence of oxygen has been detected for the first time with certainty in the atmosphere of a planet outside the Solar System: it is Kelt-9b, the hottest alien world ever observed, an inhospitable giant for life with surface temperatures that exceed 4,000 degrees. The discovery, which will help search for oxygen even in the atmosphere of more temperate and Earth-like planets, is published in Nature Astronomy by an international group led by Francesco Borsa of the National Institute of Astrophysics (INAF) in Milan. Kelt-9b is located 650 light-years away from us, in the direction of the constellation Cygnus. It is a giant planet with a mass 2.8 times larger than that of Jupiter, but with a density twice as low. To better characterize its properties, the researchers took the ‘fingerprints’ of atomic oxygen in the planet’s spectrum. The survey was inspired by new simulations of its atmosphere, led by Luca Fossati of the Austrian Academy of Sciences. Researchers have developed one of the most advanced computer models capable of simulating the atmospheres of hot exoplanets: the model allows the computer to reproduce the main properties of the atmosphere to predict its structure, composition and temperature with unprecedented precision. Simulations for Kelt-9b turned out to be in line with previous observations of other chemical species (such as hydrogen) in its atmosphere and also indicated the possible detection of oxygen atoms. By re-analyzing previous observations of the planet Kelt-9b (obtained with the telescope of the Calar Alto observatory in Spain combined with the Carmenes spectrograph) it was possible to confirm the prediction of the theoretical model: the traces of oxygen were always present, but had been lost by previous analyzes. The data shows that although Kelt-9b loses a certain amount of its warm atmosphere over time, it is not likely to see it evaporate any time soon. However, its proximity to the star leads to severe turbulence and storms, with raging winds in the atmosphere that can reach 40,000 kilometers per hour.
Source From: Ansa
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