Wasp-107b orbits a Sun but exists beyond our solar system. Dubbed “candy floss,” it shares Jupiter’s size but possesses the mass of Neptune, making it less dense than other gas giants.
A professor at the Catholic Institute and a lead researcher note that Wasp-107b’s remarkably low density allows for in-depth analysis of its atmosphere.
The James Webb Space Telescope employs the Mid Infrared Instrument (MIRI), utilizing infrared waves to scrutinize Wasp-107b’s atmospheric composition, including water vapour, sulfur dioxide, and silicate sand clouds.
This groundbreaking study marks the first time astronomers have analyzed the composition of clouds on exoplanets. Wasp-107b’s peculiar mimicry of Earth’s water cycle, raining sand instead of water droplets, adds to its uniqueness.
The falling grains are, in fact, silicate vapours rising from lower atmospheric levels. Similar to Earth’s water cycle, these sand clouds precipitate back to lower planetary atmospheric levels.
This research reshapes our understanding of the universe, offering insights into planetary formation and evolution. The study has gained recognition in the prestigious journal Nature.
Dr. Joanna Bastow, a scientist at the Open University working on James Webb Space Telescope measurements, expresses excitement about the findings and the high-quality data obtained during the research.
These findings hold significance for tracing our own evolution, shedding light on how weather cycles impact planetary geography and how atmospheres influence weather patterns, raising intriguing questions about the potential for life beyond our planet.