Hubble's Tale of Two Exoplanets: Nature vs. Nurture

Stsci_2017-22_1024

stsci_2017-22 June 5th, 2017

Credit: Illustration: NASA, ESA, and Z. Levy (STScI) Science: NASA, ESA, and G. Bruno (STScI)

Atmospheres of Two Hot Jupiters: Cloudy and Clear

Astronomers once thought that the family of planets that orbit our sun were typical of what would eventually be found around other stars: a grouping of small rocky planets like Earth huddled close to their parent star, and an outer family of monstrous gaseous planets like Jupiter and Saturn.

But ever since the discovery of the first planet around another star (or exoplanet) the universe looks a bit more complicated if not downright capricious. There is an entire class of exoplanets called "hot Jupiters." They formed like Jupiter did, in the frigid outer reaches of their planetary system, but then changed Zip code! They migrated inward to be so close to their star that temperatures are well over 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

Astronomers would like to understand the weather on these hot Jupiters and must tease out atmospheric conditions by analyzing how starlight filters through a planet's atmosphere. If the spectral fingerprint of water can be found, then astronomers conclude the planet must have relatively clear skies that lets them see deep into the atmosphere. If the spectrum doesn't have any such telltale fingerprints, then the planet is bland-looking with a high cloud deck.

Knowing the atmospheres on these distant worlds yields clues to how they formed and evolved around their parent star. In a unique experiment, astronomers aimed the Hubble Space Telescope at two "cousin" hot Jupiters that are similar in several respects. However, the researchers were surprised to learn that one planet is very cloudy, and the other has clear skies.

Provider: Hubble Space Telescope | STScI

Image Source: http://hubblesite.org/news_release/news/2017-22

Curator: STScI, Baltimore, MD, USA

Image Use Policy: http://hubblesite.org/copyright/

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Image Type
Artwork
Object Name
Exoplanets
Subject - Milky Way
Planet > Feature > Atmosphere > Cloud
Stsci_2017-22_1280
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ID
2017-22
Subject Category
B.1.2.2.1  
Subject Name
Exoplanets
Credits
Illustration: NASA, ESA, and Z. Levy (STScI) Science: NASA, ESA, and G. Bruno (STScI)
Release Date
2017-06-05
Lightyears
Redshift
Reference Url
http://hubblesite.org/news_release/news/2017-22
Type
Artwork
Image Quality
Good
Distance Notes
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Instrument
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Band
Bandpass
Central Wavelength
Start Time
Integration Time
Dataset ID
Notes
Coordinate Frame
Equinox
Reference Value
Reference Dimension
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Quality
FITS Header
Notes
Creator (Curator)
STScI
URL
http://hubblesite.org
Name
Space Telescope Science Institute Office of Public Outreach
Email
outreach@stsci.edu
Telephone
410-338-4444
Address
3700 San Martin Drive
City
Baltimore
State/Province
MD
Postal Code
21218
Country
USA
Rights
http://hubblesite.org/copyright/
Publisher
STScI
Publisher ID
stsci
Resource ID
STSCI-H-p1722a-f4200x3400.tif
Metadata Date
2018-04-12T09:19:16-04:00
Metadata Version
1.2
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