Extrasolar Planet's Missing Water Discovered
April 12, 2007 11:16 AM
The debate on whether or not Osiris has water in its atmosphere continues
A new analysis again suggests that gas giant HD209458b currently has water in its atmosphere. The planet -- nicknamed Osiris -- is 150 light years away from Earth, located in the Pegasus constellation. The planet was first detected in late November 1999, with the help of astronomical spectroscopy.
The hot, Jupiter-like gaseous planet has been the target of research once scientists believed water could be located somewhere on the planet. Three teams of scientists previously believed there could be water in the planet's atmosphere, but those ideas were questioned after the NASA Spitzer Space Telescope was unable to provide evidence.
Travis Bartman, an astronomer working at Lowell Observatory,
believes he has discovered the missing water
after analyzing the light from a star when it passes through HD209458b's atmosphere.
Barman and researchers from Harvard University measured the light coming from Osiris as it reached the furthest part of the 3.5-day orbit it makes around the star. With the help of the Hubble Space Telescope, it was possible to further study water absorption in the planet's atmosphere. Each time the planet passes its parent star, it is possible to analyze how the atmosphere absorbs light passing from the star through the atmosphere.
Scientists will continue to study and conduct research to either confirm or deny Barman's research.
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