Photo credit: M. Weiss/Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian
Astronomers have discovered WASP-62b, a ‘hot Jupiter’ located 575 light years away and about half the mass of the planet found in our solar system. Unlike our Jupiter, which takes around 12 years to orbit the sun, WASP-62b completes a full rotation around its star in just 4.5-days and its proximity to the star makes it extremely hot. What makes this discovery even more special is its cloud-free atmosphere, since astronomers estimate that less than 7 percent of exoplanets have clear atmospheres. Read more for a video and additional information.
Currently, the the only other known exoplanet with a clear atmosphere was discovered in 2018, WASP-96b, which is classified as a “hot Saturn.” One advantage that planets with clear atmospheres have is the ease of studying their chemical composition. The James Webb Space Telescope may help the research team better understand WASP-62b with its improved technologies, like higher resolution and better precision.
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I’ll admit that at first I wasn’t too excited about this planet. But once I started to take a look at the data, I got excited. This is smoking gun evidence that we are seeing a clear atmosphere,” said Munazza Alam, a graduate student at the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian (CfA) who led the study, recorded data and observations of the planet using spectroscopy.