They detect water vapor in the atmosphere of a “hot Neptune” outside the solar system

A team of scientists identified water vapor on the exoplanet TOI-674 b, according to a study not yet reviewed. uploaded this Tuesday in the prepress service arXiv.

The planet, which is located 150 light years from Earth, has a radius 5.25 times greater than Earth’s and a mass 23.6 times greater. At the same time, its average temperature is estimated to be between 330 and 630 degrees Celsius, which is why it is classified as a “hot Neptune.”

The discovery of water vapor in TOI-674 b, reported For the first time last June, it allows to clarify how the planetary formation process takes place, indicates one of the authors of the study, Ian Crossfield.

“Measuring the atmospheric composition of a gaseous planet like this helps us to know how the planet might have formed. Some models predict that such planets may form ‘dry’ away from their star, but the water vapor we see shows that those models they probably do not apply to this planet “, the researcher points out in a release from the University of Kansas.

For his part, Jonathan Brande, who led the study, indicates that the analysis can help to better understand the solar system, especially its gas giants.

“Uranus and Neptune are not well explained by some of the formation models without a drastic migration in and out of the outer solar system. Also, we do not have good measurements of what is in their atmospheres,” says the scientist.

“We have discovered thousands of exoplanets, and many of the most common are likely to be more like Uranus and Neptune than Earth, making understanding a diversity of exoplanets critical to understanding the planets in our own solar system. “Brande notes.

The use of the James Webb telescope, launched in December, could allow many new discoveries regarding exoplanets, believes Crossfield.

“Having detected water vapor on this planet with the Hubble space telescope is just a preview of what we can learn about the atmospheres of exoplanets with NASA’s recently launched James Webb space telescope,” he says.

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