Washington, March 17 (IANS) To understand the conditions of exoplanets, NASA's researchers have created an atmosphere of a super-hot planet outside our solar system, here on Earth.
Scientists at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California used a high temperature "oven" to heat up a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide at more than 2,000 degrees Farenhagen (1,100 Celsius), about the temperature of molten lava.
The aim was to simulate conditions that can be found in atmospheres of the type of exoplanets called "hot Jupiter", NASA said.
Exoplanet or extrasolar planet is a planet outside the solar system. And "hot Jupiter" are gas giants with an orbit close to their parent stars, unlike most planets in our solar system.
The team started with a simple blend of hydrogen and 0.3% carbon monoxide and heated to 330-1.230 Celsius. He was also exposed to a high dose of ultraviolet (UV) radiation.
Tests published in the Astrophysical Journal revealed some new details about possible extraterrestrial atmospheres. Observing the real planets have shown that their atmospheres are often opaque, even at low pressures where clouds are unable to form.
The artificial atmosphere of the team was also opaque because of UV light that formed organic aerosols – solid particles in the air.
"This result is changing the way we interpret those cloudy hot Jupiter atmospheres," said Benjamin Fleuri, a JPL researcher.
"Now we want to study the properties of these aerosols. We want to understand how they form, absorb light and react to changes in the environment."
"It can help astronomers understand what they see when they observe these planets," Fleuri said.
The study also showed that chemical reactions produce significant amounts of carbon dioxide and water.
"These new results are immediately useful for interpreting what we see in the hot Jupiter atmosphere," said co-author Mark Svain, an JPL exoplanet scientist.
"We assume that temperature dominates the chemistry of these atmospheres, but we also have to look at how radiation plays a role," Svain said.