HomeAstronomy & SpaceWater vapor detected in new found exoplanet

Water vapor detected in new found exoplanet

TOI-674 b is a recently discovered planet. It is a bit bigger than Neptune and it orbits a red-dwarf star about 150 light-years away. It is an exoplanet. It has water vapor in its atmosphere. The question is how much water vapor its atmosphere holds? As TOI-674 b’s atmosphere is easier to observe, scientists made it a prime target for deeper investigation.

It’s distance and relationship with its host star is especially accessible because of spaceborne telescopes. It is only 150 light-years which is “nearby” in astronomical terms. The star is cool and it is less than half as big around as our Sun. It cannot be seen from Earth with naked eye.

This large planet crosses the face of its smallish star. Then starlight shining through its atmosphere is easily analysed by telescopes. Some telescopes have special instruments called spectrographs which can spread this light into a spectrum. This reveals which gases are present in the planet’s atmosphere.

This discovery is made by Hubble Space Telescope and NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite. The planet was first found by TESS and its light spectrum was measured by Hubble.

Data of Spitzer Space Telescope have also helped astronomers to tease out some of the planet’s atmospheric components. The Webb telescope will be able to examine the planet’s atmosphere in more details.

Three other Neptune-sized exoplanets atmospheres have revealed to the astronomers so far. But the Web telescope will bring a golden age of studying exoplanet’s atmospheres.

Astronomers have also included the new planet into another group named “Neptune Desert.” TOI-674 b orbits its small star in less than two days. Scientists noted that planets in the size-class between Neptune and Jupiter are rare in orbits of three days or less. Scientists think this can provide important clues to the formation of planetary systems in general. University of Kansas scientists have contributed to the new study of water vapor on TOI-674 b.


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