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Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Cloud called the main obstacle to finding alien life


Cloud surrounding the exoplanet, was a serious obstacle to allowing astronomers to determine the presence of life on distant celestial bodies. This publication reports The Atlantic.

Space telescope “Hubble” has spent many months studying earth-GJ 1214b is a star in the constellation Ophiuchus. Telescope 15 times “filmed” the planet while it passed in its orbit on the background of its star, and the last light shone through the atmosphere. However, spectral analysis was not able to tell anything about the chemical compounds in the atmosphere of GJ 1214b has turned out only that she is surrounded by a dense layer of clouds. The atmosphere of other planets of similar size (HD 97658b, GJ 436b, and GJ 3470b) also proved independent study using Hubble.

Astronomers now plan to work around this issue, exploring exoplanets not against the background of their stars (transit method) and catching light from the sun at the moment when it is reflected from the atmosphere. In addition, radiation clouds themselves may provide indications of the molecular composition of the atmosphere.

Finally, cloud cover exoplanets are trying to recreate on Earth. In the laboratory, the Massachusetts Institute of technology plan to create clouds of zinc sulfide and potassium chlorate salt — it is believed that these substances enter into the composition of GJ 1214b clouds. Synthetic clouds irradiating the laser at different angles, scientists plan to find out how their counterparts in the real world recognize the telescopes.

In two years will begin to operate the successor of Hubble space telescope “James Webb”. It emits in the infrared range, which will make it easier for him to Shine through the clouds. However, the time “James Webb” will be in very short supply, so astronomers will have to seek alternative ways of identifying promising from the point of view of life exoplanets (and not to shift this work on the telescopes).

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