Scientists measure the number of isotopes in the atmosphere of an exoplanet for the first time

Astronomers were the first to estimate the amount of carbon isotopes in an exoplanet’s atmosphere. This will allow you to more accurately determine the distance at which the object formed from the parent star.

An international team of astronomers has discovered for the first time isotopes in an exoplanet’s atmosphere. We are talking about the various forms of carbon in the gaseous giant planet TYC 8998-760-1 b, which lies 300 light-years away in the constellation Fly. They measured the weak signal with the VLT (Very Large Telescope) and found a large amount of carbon-13. Astronomers speculate that this is due to the fact that the planet formed at a great distance from its parent star. The results will appear in the scientific journal Nature.

Isotopes are different forms of the same atom, but with a different number of neutrons in the nucleus. For example, carbon with six protons usually has six neutrons (carbon-12), but sometimes seven (carbon-13) or eight (carbon-14). This does not greatly alter the chemical properties of carbon, but isotopes are formed in different ways and often react slightly differently to prevailing conditions. Therefore, isotopes are used in a wide variety of research areas, from detecting cardiovascular diseases or cancer to studying climate change and determining the age of fossils and rocks.

The planet itself, TYC 8998-760-1 b, was discovered two years ago by explorer Alexander Bon. He noted that he was especially pleased with this discovery because it was made relatively close to planet Earth.

“We believe that in the future, isotopes will help us understand how, where and when planets form. This is just the beginning, ”the researchers noted.

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Alexandr Ivanov earned his Licentiate Engineer in Systems and Computer Engineering from the Free International University of Moldova. Since 2013, Alexandr has been working as a freelance web programmer.
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Alexandr Ivanov

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