Stories tagged new planets

Feb
24
2007

New properties: Must planets have the elements needed to make water? New discoveries have astronomers asking that question.
New properties: Must planets have the elements needed to make water? New discoveries have astronomers asking that question.
Does a planet need to have the elements for water?

What makes a planet is under even more scrutiny these days.

Last year it was the demotion of Pluto from the rank of planet.

This past week astronomers from Harvard announced that they’ve discovered a pair of planets in a far-off gala y that have properties unlike any other planet we know of.

Both bodies, called exoplanets, are huge gaseous bodies like Jupiter. And what researchers have found is that they are missing water from their makeups.

Both planets revolve around suns that have hydrogen and oxygen, the building blocks of water. Planets usually have the same composition of the suns they orbit. The elements for water aren’t a must for a planet. In our solar system, both Mercury and Venus lack the ingredients for water. But with huge planets like these, hydrogen and oxygen have always been present.

What researchers have found are hot, windy conditions. Temperatures are gauged to be as high as 1,500 degrees F with winds gusting between 500 and 2000 miles per hour.

The closest of the new exoplanets is 360 trillion miles from Earth and is located in the constellation Vulpecula. The other planet is 900 trillion miles away in the constellation Pegasus. Researchers think that planet has an atmosphere made up of fine particles of silicate.
And it’s possible that elements for water are actually there but not visibile with our current technology. Scientists say it's possible the water is hiding beneath dust clouds or that all the airborne water molecules are the same temperature, making it impossible to see using an infrared spectrograph.

Or maybe it's just not there.