Water Found in Exoplanet Near Earth may Revolutionize Future of Astronomy

Astronomers at the Keck Observatory, located in Hawaii, have found water on the planet HR 8799, which makes up a system just 179 light-years from Earth. This young gaseous planet is seven times heavier than Jupiter and was observed for the first time in 2008.

It is extremely difficult to find detailed information on so-called exoplanets, notes the Business Insider edition. The thing is that the light emitted by its stars actually “submerges” that of the exoplanet itself, which makes its viewing through the telescopes complicated. However, using state-of-the-art technologies, a Keck observatory team was able to take a giant leap in exoplanet observation.

The solar system in question includes a star, called HR 8799, and the exoplanets HR 8799 b, c, a and e. The system is located 179 light-years away from the Pegasus constellation. The star itself is a main sequence star, with an approximate age of 30 million years.

The new observations relate to the exoplanet HR 8799 c, first observed in 2008. It is a gigantic gaseous planet, seven times larger than Jupiter, which revolves around its star every 200 years. These new observations by direct image confirm the presence of water in the atmosphere and the absence of methane on its surface.

According to lead author of the study published in the Astronomical Journal, Ji Wang, current adjunct professor at Ohio State University, the HR 8799 system is the first multiplanar system directly photographed. The finding is a major breakthrough in the research of exoplanets, opening a new page in this area of ​​research.

“With the help of the Kesk telescope, we can now learn more about the physics and dynamics of these giant exotic planets, which look nothing like the planets of our Solar System,” he concluded.