Johns Hopkins University | 2018 Mar 08
Scientists have conducted the first lab experiments on haze formation in simulated exoplanet atmospheres, an important step for understanding upcoming observations of planets outside the solar system with the James Webb Space Telescope.
The simulations are necessary to establish models of the atmospheres of far-distant worlds, models that can be used to look for signs of life outside the solar system. Results of the studies appeared this week in Nature Astronomy.
“One of the reasons why we’re starting to do this work is to understand if having a haze layer on these planets would make them more or less habitable,” said the paper’s lead author, Sarah Hörst, assistant professor of Earth and planetary sciences at the Johns Hopkins University.
With telescopes available today, planetary scientists and astronomers can learn what gases make up the atmospheres of exoplanets. “Each gas has a fingerprint that’s unique to it,” Hörst said. “If you measure a large enough spectral range, you can look at how all the fingerprints are superimposed on top of each other.” ...
Haze Production Rates in Super-Earth and Mini-Neptune Atmosphere Experiments - Sarah M. Hörst et al