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Hubble Makes First Atmospheric Study of Earth-Sized Exoplanets with Interesting Results

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posted on Jul, 20 2016 @ 01:28 PM
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Astronomers have used the Hubble Telescope for the first time to take a spectroscopic look at the atmospheres of two Exoplanets ,TRAPPIST-1b and TRAPPIST-1c , which are orbiting a Red Dwarf star just 40 light years away , the initial analysis of the data shows the planets are unlikely to have puffy, hydrogen-dominated atmospheres like mini Neptunes so are possibly more like Venus , Mars or even Earth.
Further observations are planned.

The planets also reside in what astronomers believe to be the habitable zone around the star and could be an early port of call for the JWST.


"The lack of a smothering hydrogen-helium envelope increases the chances for habitability on these planets," said team member Nikole Lewis of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Maryland. "If they had a significant hydrogen-helium envelope, there is no chance that either one of them could potentially support life because the dense atmosphere would act like a greenhouse."


"These initial Hubble observations are a promising first step in learning more about these nearby worlds, whether they could be rocky like Earth, and whether they could sustain life," said Geoff Yoder, acting associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington, D.C. "This is an exciting time for NASA and exoplanet research."


"With more data, we could perhaps detect methane or see water features in the atmospheres, which would give us estimates of the depth of the atmospheres," said Hannah Wakeford, the paper's second author, at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Observations from future telescopes, including NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, will help determine the full composition of these atmospheres and hunt for potential biosignatures, such as carbon dioxide and ozone, in addition to water vapor and methane. Webb also will analyze a planet's temperature and surface pressure — key factors in assessing its habitability.
hubblesite.org...


Waiting for the James Webb Space Telescope is like waiting for Christmas except this Christmas keeps being put back , Hopefully the 2018 launch window will hold and we can really start to seek out our neighbors.




posted on Jul, 20 2016 @ 01:32 PM
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I'm way to impatient for this, I need to know nooooooooooooooooooooooow lol. I wish science was faster haha.



posted on Jul, 20 2016 @ 02:03 PM
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a reply to: gortex

I love posts like these! S+F. The only thing that is discouraging to me is when they say these planets are "only 40 ly away". Even 1/2 of a light year away is impossibly far away to reach. At the moment anyway, with the tech we are told we have. Still amazing stuff though, and shows how little in general that we really know about the Universe.
edit on 20-7-2016 by iTruthSeeker because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 20 2016 @ 02:12 PM
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I just think it is amazing we can aquire this information on something so small and far away.. Especially when the James Web telescope is launched. That bad boy is gonna blow us all away..



posted on Jul, 20 2016 @ 02:23 PM
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Thats a pretty narrow splinter of spectrum data to capture the atmosphere sliver around a planet back lit by the host star so far away.

Interpreting it will be even more difficult.



posted on Jul, 20 2016 @ 03:20 PM
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a reply to: gortex

Yeah, October 2018 is so far away! (Re: JWST)

They also extended Hubble's operational life by 5 years (and 2 billion dollars). So both will be operational at the same time.

Did you see the SKA pics? They only have 16 of the 64 antenna up and saw more in a small patch of sky than they knew about. And if they link up a satellite with those... that will be epic.

We are on the cusp of astronomical discoveries! Next few years should be a new golden age.


edit on 20-7-2016 by TEOTWAWKIAIFF because: tori spelling



posted on Jul, 20 2016 @ 03:22 PM
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So, can we start selling them carbon credits, yet? Because I could use the cash.
edit on 20-7-2016 by Excallibacca because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 20 2016 @ 03:38 PM
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a reply to: TEOTWAWKIAIFF

I missed the SKA PIC , thanks for pointing it out.
We have so many cool tools either online or coming online soon , exciting times.



posted on Jul, 20 2016 @ 03:46 PM
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originally posted by: gortex
a reply to: TEOTWAWKIAIFF

I missed the SKA PIC , thanks for pointing it out.
We have so many cool tools either online or coming online soon , exciting times.


This is great news! Thanks for this.



posted on Jul, 20 2016 @ 03:47 PM
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Seek out are neighbors? What if their ASSHOLES?



posted on Jul, 20 2016 @ 03:50 PM
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originally posted by: HUMBLEONE
Seek out are neighbors? What if their ASSHOLES?

Yeah, we can easily find those on Earth without having to look billions of miles away.



posted on Jul, 20 2016 @ 04:14 PM
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originally posted by: intrptr

Thats a pretty narrow splinter of spectrum data to capture the atmosphere sliver around a planet back lit by the host star so far away.

Interpreting it will be even more difficult.


I'm not a rocket scientist, or a planetary astronomer, but I think in concept you compare the spectrum of the star by itself with the spoectrum of the star when the planet is transiting it, and if you subtract the first from the second, you end up with the spectrum of the planet's atmosphere.

Like I said, that's may be the concept, but it may be more complicated than that in practice.



originally posted by: HUMBLEONE
Seek out are neighbors? What if their ASSHOLES?

[grammar_police]
What do you want to know about their assholes?
[/grammar_police]



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