11/24/2023 19:16 (Doha Time)
NASA announced the discovery of methane in the atmosphere of WASP-80b, a gas giant half the size of Jupiter.
Astronomers used the James Webb Space Telescope to study the combined light of the star and planet during transits and eclipses.
Finding exoplanets with methane in their atmospheres could help them understand the Solar System, the researchers explained.
“NASA has a history of sending spacecraft to our solar system’s gas giants to measure the amount of methane and other molecules in their atmospheres,” the researchers said, “and now we can start by measuring the same gas on an exoplanet. Make a comparison and see if the predictions from the computer hold up.” “The solar system matches what we see outside it.”
Measuring methane gas in addition to water helps determine how and where the planet formed, and finding methane gas in exoplanets could help build a better understanding of exoplanet atmospheres, they pointed out.
According to the agency, “WASP-80b” orbits a “K” main sequence star about 1.5 billion years old, and since it is a gas giant and not a rocky planet, finding life there is unlikely. Now let’s compare the atmospheres that an exoplanet has…methane on Uranus and Neptune in the solar system.
The agency noted that WASP-80b’s temperature puts it in an interesting transition regime where equilibrium chemistry models predict that there should be detectable CH4 and CO2 features in the planet’s transmission and emission spectra.