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Dramatic changes spotted in HD 189733b exoplanet atmosphere

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posted on Jun, 28 2012 @ 11:18 AM
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Astronomers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have seen dramatic changes in the upper atmosphere of a faraway planet. Just after a violent flare on its parent star bathed it in intense X-ray radiation, the planet's atmosphere gave off a powerful burst of evaporation. The observations give a tantalizing glimpse of the changing climates and weather on planets outside our solar system.




Astronomer Alain Lecavelier des Etangs (CNRS-UPMC, France) and his team used Hubble to observe the atmosphere of exoplanet HD 189733b during two periods in early 2010 and late 2011, as it was silhouetted against its parent star. While backlit in this way, the planet's atmosphere imprints its chemical signature on the starlight, allowing astronomers to decode what is happening on scales that are too tiny to image directly. The observations were carried out in order to confirm what the team had previously seen once before in a different planetary system: the evaporation of an exoplanet's atmosphere.


Hopefully, no way it could happens to our Earth, as HD 189733b receive a X-ray dose 3 million times higher than Earth and as it's a giant planet that lies extremely close to its parent star.


The team's follow-up observations, made in 2011, showed a dramatic change, with clear signs of a plume of gas being blown from the planet at a rate of at least 1000 tonnes per second. "We hadn't just confirmed that some planets' atmospheres evaporate," Lecavelier explains, "we had watched the physical conditions in the evaporating atmosphere vary over time. Nobody had done that before."


Whole paper and source:
-phys.org
- ESA/Hubble information centre
- Full scientific PDF paper: Temporal variations in the evaporating atmosphere of the exoplanet HD189733b
edit on 28-6-2012 by elevenaugust because: (no reason given)




posted on Jun, 28 2012 @ 11:30 AM
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If there was life there, we just witnessed it get steam fried.



posted on Jun, 28 2012 @ 11:33 AM
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Originally posted by SubPop79
If there was life there, we just witnessed it get steam fried.


Or evolved. THe life theremay not be similar to human life but MAY be intelligent. they may even use the energy for power of some kind, ofcourse deep speculation. Interesting OP snf



posted on Jun, 28 2012 @ 11:50 AM
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Originally posted by Ophiuchus 13

Originally posted by SubPop79
If there was life there, we just witnessed it get steam fried.


Or evolved. THe life theremay not be similar to human life but MAY be intelligent. they may even use the energy for power of some kind, ofcourse deep speculation. Interesting OP snf


Best response
Ever!

F & 2xS



posted on Jun, 28 2012 @ 12:43 PM
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Originally posted by SubPop79
If there was life there, we just witnessed it get steam fried.

The planet is so close to its star, it's unlikely to have life anyway, way closer than Mercury is to our Sun. It's already superheated. The planet orbits its star every 2.2 days:

en.wikipedia.org...



posted on Jun, 28 2012 @ 01:12 PM
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ohhhh
i thought it was gunna be a thread discussing artificial changes in a planets atmosphere and how this would indicate the possabillity of the existance of life on another planet

*dissapointed face*



posted on Jun, 28 2012 @ 01:16 PM
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People still think in a way that baffles me.

Just because we need water and oxygen to live, doesn't mean other entities do.

In a universe thats pretty much infinite, there are infinite possibilities.

If I was a species that could only live by eating metals and inhaling poison, I would look at water like its enemy #1.



posted on Jun, 28 2012 @ 01:31 PM
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I would love to see a CGI artist's rendition of what this would look like.

I have often thought of two planets colliding, one of oxygen and one of methane, and somebody lights a match... Astronomers should make CGI movies about their finds to share it with humanity on a more intelectual level. Now we'll have to wait for the docy.

On topic though, what is it that holds our atmosphere in place, gravity? What would have caused such a mass expulsion of one's atmosphere? Certainly not the loss of gravity, otherwise the planet would not still exist. Did the atmosphere become a superheated gas and blow? Why did it take so long if it was on a constant orbit?




 
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posted on Jun, 28 2012 @ 09:26 PM
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Originally posted by Monkeygod333
I would love to see a CGI artist's rendition of what this would look like.

Click on the article, they have one.


Originally posted by Monkeygod333
I have often thought of two planets colliding, one of oxygen and one of methane, and somebody lights a match...

The energy produced by two planets colliding, no matter what they are made of, essentially spells the doom for both. Take two rocky worlds, more or less Earth or Mars sized and smash them together and you get a molten inferno hellscape that will take millions of years to cool. This video about the most popular theory of how the moon was formed will give you an idea of what it would be like (you can skip to about 1:45 in, before that is all prologue):



Take an Earth-sized world and slam it into a Jupiter or Saturn sized world and the Earth-sized world would be swallowed up, but it would cause massive disturbances on the bigger planet as well. It wouldn't just disappear. Even a comet smacking into Jupiter, Shoemaker-Levy 9, created massive, super-heated fireballs and scars on the planet's surface larger than the Earth, rivaling the Great Red Spot, even. A planet hitting Jupiter would make a mind-bogglingly huge explosion.


Originally posted by Monkeygod333On topic though, what is it that holds our atmosphere in place, gravity? What would have caused such a mass expulsion of one's atmosphere? Certainly not the loss of gravity, otherwise the planet would not still exist. Did the atmosphere become a superheated gas and blow? Why did it take so long if it was on a constant orbit?

Gravity does indeed hold the atmosphere in place, or in the case of a gas giant like the world in the solar system this article describes, holds it all together. The heat of the blast from the star is what caused the expulsion from the atmosphere. There's always some of this going on from a star's stellar wind all the time. It happens to Earth, though very slowly because we're protected by our magnetosphere, so we retain most of our atmosphere. Mars has a very weak magnetosphere, and so most of its atmosphere has been blown away over the eons, it's very thin. Even if this planet has a very strong magnetosphere, at such close range, the blast would be so powerful that it probably wouldn't matter is my guess.

Also, this didn't blow away the entire atmosphere of this world, but it is blowing it away at a very high rate. Remember, this world is a gas giant, so it's basically all atmosphere but for a much smaller solid core under tremendous pressure. If you blew away the whole atmosphere you'd probably be left with just a small rocky planet in the size range of the Earth, or maybe of super-Earth size. I don't know if that is even possible in the life-span of this star, even with this world being so close. I doubt it.

Edit: Actually, I missed at the end of the article they discuss how some rocky worlds could be the core remnants of gas giants like this that lost all of there atmospheres, so my last statement above could be wrong. It might well lose all its atmosphere given enough time.
edit on 6/28/2012 by LifeInDeath because: (no reason given)

edit on 6/28/2012 by LifeInDeath because: (no reason given)



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