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Exoplanet Reveals Key Sign Of Potential Life


A scientific paper titled Methane Throughout the Atmosphere of the Warm Exoplanet WASP-80b was recently published by a team led by Taylor Bell, a researcher at the Bay Area Environmental Research Institute. Bell found that WASP-80b is a so-called “warm Jupiter” with a temperature around 1,025 Fahrenheit. This puts the exoplanet between hot Jupiters like HD 209458 b—the first transiting exoplanet discovered—and cold Jupiters like our Jupiter, which only gets as hot as 235 Fahrenheit.

The temperature of the exoplanet is important as it’s just another piece of the methane puzzle. There’s a severe lack of methane in the atmosphere of most exoplanets, meaning that anytime scientists discover a planet with it, they have to carefully study all aspects of the planet’s makeup. Every methane-producing exoplanet discovered by astronomers plays an important role in helping the scientific community develop atmospheric theory.

WASP-80b’s temperature, in particular, places it in “an interesting transitional regime where equilibrium chemistry models predict that there should be detectable CH4 and CO/CO2 features in the planet’s transmission and emission spectra…” according to the researchers who worked on the paper.

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