Extrasolar Planet's Missing Water Discovered
April 12, 2007 11:16 AM
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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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RE: more on the topic
4/12/2007 8:04:55 PM
Aura, you know what amuses me? Every 12-18 months, I'll read a bit of a book, check the latest articles in top magazines, even stick my nose in some bleeding-edge on-going research that I barely understand to get up to date on what the latest 'facts' and theories are. It amuses me because.. almost without fail, for years now, the universe and how we understand it changes in fairly large ways every 12-18 months.
When we can't even understand some of the basic things going on in the universe I'd say we still have lots of work to do.
Not to mention, that's pretty pessimistic to think we could point telescopes across the galaxy endlessly and not find something. Statistics suggest otherwise. Question is, will the first discovery be bacteria, a primitive civilization like ours, or something we nearly miss because their planet dumps so much energy we mistook it for a weird star.
Of course, statistics also suggest we'd have to be pretty lucky with current technology and funding, but that's not a reason to avoid trying.
Based on the few astronomers I've met I believe they're doing the most productive work that they could be doing with their lives anyway. Their near-insane love and dedication for their work likely wouldn't be replicated if their field didn't exist or had no funding and they had to work in something more (to them) mundane. In fact, I suspect at least a couple of them I know would've got English majors and just been stay at home moms if not for Astronomy. They're doing good work.
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