‘Methane’ Discovered on ‘Warm- Jupiter’ Exoplanet

News Excerpt:

Methane's short duration in a planetary atmosphere has captured the scientific attention of many researchers.

Discovery of Methane

Astronomers have spotted water vapour in the atmospheres of around a dozen planets thus far. Still, the detection of methane  —  though commonly found in the atmospheres of solar system worlds like Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune  —  using space-based spectroscopy has been far rarer.

  • So, the scientists are now done with the James Webb Space Telescope.
  • This was the first time scientists had seen such an obvious methane spectral feature with our eyes in a transiting exoplanet spectrum.

Why is it an Important Discovery?

  • Methane is an essential gas in tracing atmospheric composition.
  • It is essential to know the chemistry of Giant planets.
  • It is also hypothesised to be, in combination with oxygen, a possible signature of biology.
  • We can observe other carbon-rich molecules, such as carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide, enabling us to paint a more comprehensive picture of the conditions in this planet’s atmosphere.
  • This discovery is the opportunity to finally compare planets outside our solar system to those in it.

About Warm -Jupiter Exoplanet

  • The exoplanet exists with a temperature of about 825 kelvins.
  • WASP-80 b is the exoplanet that scientists call a ‘warm Jupiter’.
  • WASP-80 b goes around its red dwarf star once every three days and is situated 163 light-years away from us in the constellation Aquila.
  • This planet cannot be seen directly with even the most advanced telescope like Webb. Instead, researchers study the combined light from the star and planet using the transit method (which has been used to discover most known exoplanets) and the eclipse method.
  • Like all planets, WASP-80 b  emits some of its light through thermal radiation. This light's wavelength category and intensity depend on the planet's temperature.