An exoplanet with an infernal atmosphere

Exoplanet HD189733b courtesy Ron Miller

(Phys.org) – As part of the PlanetS National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR), astronomers from the Universities of Geneva (UNIGE) and Bern, Switzerland, have come to measure the temperature of the atmosphere of an exoplanet with unequalled precision, by crossing two approaches.

The first approach is based on the HARPS spectrometer and the second consists of a new way of interpreting sodium lines. From these two additional analyses, researchers have been able to conclude that the HD189733b exoplanet is showing infernal atmospheric conditions: wind speeds of more than 1000 kilometres per hour, and the temperature being 3000 degrees. These results open up perspectives to approach the study of exoplanet atmospheres. They were published in two journals, Astronomy & Astrophysics and Astrophysical Journal Letters.

With a temperature of 3000 degrees and such winds blowing at several thousand kilometres per hour, the HD189733b exoplanet’s atmosphere is truly turbulent. Measurements taken by a team of astronomers from the Universities of Geneva and Bern are given in the framework of the PlanetS NCCR; the figures come from observations made over sodium spectral lines. This element is contained in the exoplanet’s atmosphere, and has been measured by the HARPS spectrometer, an instrument designed at the UNIGE Observatory, and installed on a telescope of the European Star Observatory (ESO) in Chile. Image: Ron Miller/NASA.

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