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SCI/TECH: Oxygen at Extrasolar Planet, a First

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posted on Feb, 3 2004 @ 09:52 AM

For the first time ever, astronomers found both oxygen and carbon in the atmosphere of an extrasolar planet.

The planet was already known to be venting massive amounts of gas into space.

The find is evidence of an atmospheric "blow off" in action, where energetic hydrogen gas drags heavier elements along for a supersonic ride into space.

The planet was thought to be losing at least 10,000 tons of material each second, but researchers weren't sure the process was powerful enough to dredge up heavier elements.

Carbon and oxygen atoms are 10 times heavier than those of hydrogen, and therefore would normally lie low in a planet's atmosphere, explained Gilda Ballester, a University of Arizona astronomer who took part in the study. "So a force stronger than gravity is driving them up along with the hydrogen gas into the extended envelope around this planet," she said.


posted on Feb, 3 2004 @ 09:01 PM
from reading the artical it said that this may lead to a new class of planets? well what i think maybe is that this is a solar system in the making. what are the gas giants made of? mostly hydrogen and helium... the gas blowing off this planet goes further out, dropping most of the heavier elements off along the way.

think of it like this... a few billion years ago, the solar system was all of the mercury was the biggest of them at the time, being a gas giant. venus and and everything after were solid.

since mercury would have had an even faster orbit, due to higher mass, the gas would have spread out in a sort of spiral (ever take a water hose and spin it around over your head? yeah, like that...). so as the gasses blew past venus and the earth a majority of what went by was caught in the gravity and stayed with the planets. whatever else blew past and was conseculatively caught by planet after planet...

jupiter got the most of it, being closer and having a faster orbit. then saturn, uranus, and neptune in that order. also those, planets cores would have formed during the sun blowing off the heavier elements during its formation.

that's just my two cents...

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