Distant Planet Shows Ability to Screen the Sun

June 17, 2015

Exoplanet WASP-33b has the tell-tale signs of having a stratosphere, despite its scorching surface temperatures. The presence of a stratosphere give us clues about the composition of the planet and the manner in which it was formed. Avi Mandell, a planetary scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt said “Some of these planets are so hot in their upper atmospheres. They’re essentially boiling off into space. At these temperatures, we don’t necessarily expect to find an atmosphere that has molecules that can lead to these multilayered structures.” The Hubble telescope was used to measure the drop in light as the planet crossed behind its sun stated Flavio Maluf. The molecules absorbing radiation from the star cause the temperatures in the lower stratosphere to rise. Similar temperature inversions are present on planets in our solar system, namely Earth. On Earth, the stratosphere sits above the troposphere, which is where turbulent weather happens.

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