Sunday, July 14

Scientist predicts faraway planet’s weather 2023

A NASA-led team’s new comprehension of a distant planet was aided by a scientist’s “alien weather forecast” for it.

Dr. Michael Roman of the University of Leicester made the observations regarding the 2009-discovered planet GJ 1214b’s atmospheric conditions.

His endeavor is part of a NASA-led international research program.

He hoped to conduct additional work on the planet in the near future.

Dr. Roman from the University of Leicester School of Physics and Astronomy said, “Ten years ago, astronomers attempted to determine the atmospheric composition of GJ 1214b using the Hubble Space Telescope, but when they analyzed the data, they discovered that the planet was shrouded in a thick layer of cloud or haze.

This dense, enveloping haze prevented them from seeing the atmosphere’s composition.

We required observations capable of penetrating this layer.


Dr. Roman utilized the Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) on the James Webb Space Telescope operated by NASA.

Scientists from Leicester contributed to the design, construction, and testing of the telescope, which began full scientific operations in 2022.

Dr. Roman reported that GJ 1214 b was larger than the Earth but smaller than Neptune.

According to him, planets like this are quite prevalent throughout the galaxy, so scientists are anxious to learn more about them.

“The MIRI instrument was able to see through a portion of this dense haze, revealing for the first time hints of GJ 1214b’s atmospheric composition and temperature,” Dr. Roman explained.

“We detected a characteristic that seems to be consistent with the presence of water vapor and potentially methane.

Additionally, we discovered that this dense atmosphere was highly reflective, causing the planet to be colder than anticipated.

The findings were reported in Nature.

Eliza Kempton, a researcher from the University of Maryland and the paper’s main author, stated, “The atmosphere of the planet is completely covered by a layer of haze or clouds.”

Just prior to this observation, the atmosphere remained completely concealed.

Dr. Roman stated that he and his colleagues hoped to conduct additional planet observations shortly.

“We hope to obtain more precise measurements of the planet’s atmosphere in order to determine the composition of this mysterious, cloud-covered world,” he explained.

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