December 3, 2021

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An important step towards finding the vital fingerprints of life in space

An important step towards finding the vital fingerprints of life in space

| Astronomy / Physics

for the first time It was possible to measure the amount of water and carbon monoxide directly in the atmosphere of an exoplanet. The measurements were made by an international research team using the Gemini Southern Observatory telescope in Chile. It was led by Professor Michael Lane of Arizona State University, and the results were published in temper nature. The goal of the search was a planet that is only 340 light-years away from us.

WASP-77Ab is a planet belonging to the category of Hot Jupiter. It is similar to Jupiter, but the temperature on its surface exceeds 1100 degrees Celsius. Scientists focused on studying its atmosphere, checking the elements in it compared to the composition of its star. Due to its size and temperature, hot Jupiters are a light laboratory for studying atmospheric gases and testing theories of planet formation.Professor Lane says.

Gemini South is a telescope with a mirror diameter of 8.1 meters located in Cerro Passion in the Andes. The telescope belongs to scientific institutions from the USA, Canada, Chile, Brazil and Argentina. It is one of the dual instruments included in the Gemini Observatory. The second machine, Gemini North, is located in Hawaii.

Scientists used the Immersion Infrared Spectrometer (IGRINS) in Gemini South to observe the thermal glow of an exoplanet orbiting the star. IGRINS made it possible to detect and determine the relative proportions of gases in the atmosphere. By determining the relative amounts of water and carbon monoxide, they were able to determine the oxygen and carbon content of WASP-77Ab’s atmosphere.

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The values ​​were in line with our predictions and were roughly the same as the planet’s parent starLine says. The scientist adds that his team’s work is also a demonstration of methods for measuring important gases such as oxygen or methane in the atmospheres of planets not too distant. These gases are vital fingerprints, and their research will help find planets where life might exist.

We have reached the point where we can measure the relative values ​​of the gases in the atmospheres of exoplanets with the same precision as the gases in the atmospheres of planets in solar systems. Measuring carbon, oxygen and other elements in the atmospheres of more exoplanets will help us better understand the origins and evolution of Jupiter and Saturnadds the world. And if we can do this with the technology that exists today, let’s just think about what will be possible with future telescopes, such as the Giant Magellan Telescope. It really is possible that we can use the same technique to search for life’s fingerprints before the end of this decadeLine says. Last year, the US National Science Foundation $17.5 million To speed up work on the Giant Magellan Telescope.

Biosignature atmosphere of exoplanet formation