Scientists used the Gemini telescope in Chile to determine the amount of water and carbon monoxide in a planet’s atmosphere in another solar system. This is the first time this has been done. The results of their work were published in the journal Nature.
Scientists have noticed the planet WASP-77Ab. It is an exoplanet that is similar to Jupiter in our solar system, but with temperatures above 1,000 ° C. The conditions of the planet make it possible to measure gases and test the theory of planet formation.
The researchers used the Gemini telescope with an Immersion GRating INfrared Spectrometer (IGRINS). They observed the thermal glow of the exoplanet as it orbited the host star. Having obtained clear data on the water and carbon monoxide content in the WASP-77Ab atmosphere, scientists were able to determine the relative amount of oxygen and carbon.
“This work shows how we will measure biosignature gases such as oxygen and methane in potentially habitable worlds in the not too distant future,” explained Associate Professor Michael Line of the School of Earth and Space Studies at Arizona State University.
The team plans to repeat this analysis for other planets and collect data on at least 15 of them. They hope they can use this method to detect potential signs of life on rocky Earth-like planets outside our solar system.