Home Research NASA scientists discover water clouds on a Neptune-sized planet

NASA scientists discover water clouds on a Neptune-sized planet


The number of recognized exoplanets is increasing continuously each time space scientists go deep in the space exploration. Studies on these planets outside the solar system unravel data about the exoplanets’ potential of harboring life as well as clues about their formation.

The latest study carried out on a Neptune-sized planet has extracted some positive revelations. The study shows the existence of and earth like atmosphere on this planet with hydrogen and helium gases present in the atmosphere thus proving existence of water vapour and clouds.

These exoplanets’ study of this type i.e. with such distance in the galaxy from earth is a new phenomena for the scientists and scientists believe that the investigation carried on these planets will help know their origination.

This planet was discovered in 2010 430-light-years from Earth. It orbits its star with a cycle clocking 4.23 days for one round. Scientists at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre, Hannah Wakeford and team are using equipment like Hubble Telescope and Spitzer Space Telescope to the study this planet named HAT-P-26b where they found strong possibilities of cloud existence.

According to what scientists assume based on their detailed observation, the clouds seen may not be entirely made up of water considering the high temperature in the atmosphere of the planet, but they are seen to be constituted with di-sodium sulphide. The metallicity observed in the atmosphere of this exoplanet was interestingly lower compared to the planets Uranus and Neptune which indicates that planets with notably lower mass possess high metal nature. HAT-P-26b resembles to the atmosphere seen in the planets of solar system to some extent and that propels more research in the future on this planet.

Thus scientists strongly believe that HAT-P-26b will be a revolutionary planet to study the formation and nature of other exoplanets.