The exoplanet, orbiting a small star only 40 light-years away from us, thus opens dramatic new perspectives in the quest for habitable worlds. GJ 1214b has a mass 6.5 times that of Earth and is 2.6 times its radius. Abstract. Here we report a measurement of the transmission spectrum of GJ 1214b at near-infrared wavelengths that definitively resolves this ambiguity. For the model to fit their observations, it’s required that the model must fit better than a flat-line. In the process, it would have experienced more Earth-like temperatures, but how long this benign phase lasted is unknown, researchers said. GJ 1214b, also known as Gliese 1214b, is 42 light years from Earth and was discovered in November 2009. A eureka moment? In contrast, the recently published near-infrared measurements (see Croll et al. DOI: 10.1038/nature12888 Corpus ID: 4447642. (Image: © NASA, ESA, and D. Aguilar (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics)), A mysterious 'wobble' is moving Mars' poles around, How to watch the rare 'triple conjunction' of Mercury, Jupiter and Saturn tonight, Wandering polar vortex may cause a wild, snowy winter. Berta and his co-authors, who include Derek Homeier of ENS Lyon, France, used Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 … The bulk composition of the planet has been analyzed using interior structure models which fit the measured planet properties ().One main conclusion of the analysis is that, given the planet's low density, there must be a significant atmosphere. By measuring the absorption spectra of the planet’s atmosphere, astronomers were able to shed light onto its composition. Astronomers estimate the planet¹s temperature to be about 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Enter your email to receive notifications of new posts. Even more intriguing is that due to the temperature (being so close to its red dwarf star makes it around 450 degrees Fahrenheit) and extreme pressures, all that water gets a bit…exotic. They modeled solar composition planets and planets with abundances of heavy elements that were 10 times and 30 times solar abundances. The advantage of finding planets around these cool, small stars is that super-Earth sized planets such as GJ 1214b create a larger dip in the light curve than the same planet would around a Sun-sized star, making them easier to detect and, with further observations, characterize. GJ1214b, shown in this artist’s view, is a super-Earth orbiting a red dwarf star 40 light-years from Earth. The super-Earth GJ 1214b, which has 6.5 times the mass of our Earth, orbits its star once every 38 hours at a distance of only 1.3 million miles. Abstract: Recent observations of the transiting super-Earth GJ 1214b reveal that its atmosphere may be hydrogen-rich or water-rich in nature, with clouds or hazes potentially affecting its transmission spectrum in the optical and very-near-IR. Two classes of models have been proposed to explain the planet's observed low density. The others have all been gas giants. The exoplanet GJ 1214b, which orbits a star 40 light-years from Earth, offers astronomers a unique chance to study its atmosphere because it passes directly in front of … GJ 1214b represents a new type of planet, like nothing seen in the Solar System or any other planetary system currently known. Researchers have analyzed the atmosphere of GJ 1214b, which is … Astronomers have found one planet as light and airy as Styrofoam, for example, and another as dense as iron. Berta and his co-authors, who include Derek Homeier of ENS Lyon, France, used Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) to study GJ 1214b when it crossed in front of its host star. Their observations alone are also consistent with an atmosphere that is denser than hydrogen/helium, but that type of atmosphere was ruled out by the near-infrared data published earlier this year; however, they suggest that further observations might be necessary to verify this conclusion. GJ 1214b, first discovered in December 2009, is 2.7 times the size of Earth and 6.5 times as massive. An alien machine already visited us, Harvard astrophysicist still contends. Because GJ 1214b is so close to Earth, it's a prime candidate for study by future instruments. In this week's Nature paper, researchers say Hubble's near-infrared observations show conclusively that GJ 1214b is blanketed by high clouds that … • GJ 1214b’s atmosphere is not well-described by a hydrogen-dominated atmosphere in chemical equilibrium • Other possibilities include: • No methane / High clouds • High mean molecular weight atmosphere (> 20% H 2O) • Additional observations will be necessary to break the degeneracy between the different possibilities Berta and his team used Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 to help dispel the doubts. 40 light-years away lies the exoplanet GJ 1214b, a searingly hot "super-Earth" orbiting a red dwarf star. Discovered in 2009 , the planet is about 2.7 times Earth’s diameter and is almost 7 times as massive. presence of an atmosphere on GJ 1214b is rather probable. Atmosphere Origin GJ 1214b may have formed from a variety of primordial materials in its protoplanetary disk. Recent observations of the transiting super-Earth GJ 1214b reveal that its atmosphere may be hydrogen-rich or water-rich in nature, with clouds or hazes potentially affecting its transmission spectrum in the optical and very-near-IR. Jan. 10, 1946: Radio astronomy is born! GJ 1214b is a Super Earth type exoplanet found orbiting the star GJ 1214. Transit observations of the super-Earth GJ 1214b rule out cloud-free H{sub 2}-dominated scenarios, but are not able to determine whether the lack of deep spectral features is due to high-altitude clouds or the presence of a high mean molecular mass atmosphere. Scientists have discovered a new type of alien planet — a steamy waterworld that is larger than Earth but smaller than Uranus. The planet orbits a small red dwarf star which has only 16% the mass of our own sun. The alien planet's interior structure is likely quite different from that of our world. The first spectra of this planet also were featureless, but indicated GJ 1214b's atmosphere was dominated by water vapor or hydrogen, with high-altitude clouds. 2000, 2003) to acquire photometry within a bandpass of 12Å. Photochemical hazes are expected to form in the upper atmosphere (p<10μbars) and coagulate to larger Here we further examine the possibility that GJ 1214b does indeed possess a hydrogen-dominated atmosphere, which is the hypothesis that is favored by models of the bulk composition of the planet. Different teams of astronomers have published photometric observations in the optical, near-infrared, and mid-infrared — and each group concludes the atmosphere is different! This paper rules out all these models except for the low carbon and no methane models. Discovered by the MEarth project and investigated further by the HARPS spectrograph on ESO’s 3.6-metre telescope at La Silla, GJ1214b is the second super-Earth exoplanet for which astronomers have determined the mass and radius, giving vital clues about its structure. This so-called "super-Earth" is about 2.7 times Earth’s diameter and weighs nearly seven times as much as our home planet. GJ 1214b is classified as a water-world, and is the only example of such a planet yet to be discovered. Previous studies of GJ 1214b yielded two possible interpretations of the planet's atmosphere. In a water-rich atmosphere, such as the one on GJ 1214b, the effect of the Rayleigh scattering is much weaker than in a hydrogen-dominated atmosphere. Planets specifically lacking methane and with very low total carbon abundance are also examined. Preliminary studies for the properties of clouds and photochemical hazes in the atmosphere of GJ 1214b suggested that both components can provide a flat spectrum (Morley et al. The data show that GJ 1214b's atmosphere isn't, as previously theorized, a puffy, cloud-free layer of mainly hydrogen gas. Transmission spectroscopy is a clever technique that astronomers use to infer the composition of exoplanet atmospheres. Unlike many of the other transiting super-Earth-sized planets (or Kepler planet candidates), GJ 1214b orbits a fairly bright star and causes a large enough dip (~1%) during transit to practically acquire observations that would constrain the characteristics of its atmosphere. GJ 1214b thus appears to have much more water than Earth does, and much less rock. Therefore there must be a deep (0.49 R E is 3120km) atmosphere to explain the transit radius. New York, Nature, 505, 69 paper arxiv A Search for Methane in the Atmosphere of GJ 1214b via GTC Narrow-Band Transmission Spectrophotometry All the published transmission data from GJ 1214b are used to analyze the atmosphere. "We’re using Hubble to measure the infrared color of sunset on this world," Berta said. Given the uncertainties in the nature of the atmosphere of GJ 1214b… "GJ 1214b is like no planet we know of," study lead author Zachory Berta of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass., said in a statement. Therefore there must be a deep (0.49 R E is 3120km) atmosphere to explain the transit radius. You will receive a verification email shortly. New observations by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope suggest that GJ 1214b is a watery world enshrouded by a thick, steamy atmosphere. The lines on this graph show the models used in this paper. The paper Three Possible Origins for the Gas Layer on GJ 1214b is of … presence of an atmosphere on GJ 1214b is rather probable. The optical and mid-infrared measurements have suggested that the atmosphere is made mostly of heavier elements (such as water) rather than having a hydrogen and helium atmosphere; alternately, a haze or cloud layer high in the atmosphere could also fit the observations. For all observations, we used the TF imaging mode on OSIRIS (Cepa 1998; Cepa et al. Visit our corporate site. When GJ 1214b was first discovered in 2009, just 42 light-years from Earth, astronomers couldn’t decide exactly what it was—either a mini-Neptune, with an extended, gassy atmosphere, or a planet made largely of water, with a more compact atmosphere rich in water vapor. 2013, 2015). Space is part of Future US Inc, an international media group and leading digital publisher. The data show that GJ 1214b's atmosphere isn't, as previously theorized, a puffy, cloud-free layer of mainly hydrogen gas. The mass of the planet can be inferred from sensitive observations of the parent star's radial velocity, measured through small shifts in stellar spectral lines due to the Doppler effect. New Subaru Telescope observations of super-Earth GJ 1214 b show that the exoplanet is likely to have a water-rich atmosphere. The planet's atmosphere could be dominated by relatively heavy molecules, such as water (e.g., a 100% water vapor composition), or it could contain high-altitude clouds that obscure its lower layers. NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, which is slated to launch in 2018, may be able to get an even better look at the planet's atmosphere, researchers said. "The high temperatures and high pressures would form exotic materials like 'hot ice' or 'superfluid water,' substances that are completely alien to our everyday experience," Berta said. The planet, GJ 1214b, is three times larger than Earth and about seven times heavier, and is the first planet of its kind known to have an atmosphere. The others have all been gas giants. The data, obtained with the Hubble Space Telescope, are sufficiently precise to detect absorption features from a high mean-molecular-mass atmosphere. 2013, 2015). The authors conclude from their observations, combined with all the previous photometric observations, that GJ 1214b can be fit by a hydrogen and helium dominated atmosphere only if it is significantly depleted in methane. And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at: community@space.com. Clouds in the atmosphere of the super-Earth exoplanet GJ 1214b 2014 KREIDBERG L., BEAN J., DESERT J.-M., BENNEKE B., DEMING D. et al. Previous observations of the planet's size and mass demonstrated it has a low density for its size, leading astronomers to conclude the planet is some kind of solid body with an atmosphere. New observations from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope show that it is a waterworld enshrouded by a thick, steamy atmosphere. The planet, called GJ 1214b, is the smallest planet yet to have its atmosphere examined — but it’s just the latest in nearly a decade of probing exoplanet atmospheres. When the first exoplanet atmosphere was measured in 2002, many astronomers dismissed it … Scientists first reported in 2010 that GJ 1214b's atmosphere is likely composed primarily of water, but their findings were not definitive. If the planet’s atmosphere were photochemically altered by the strong irradiation from its host star, it could appear depleted in methane with an optical haze. NY 10036. Given the uncertainties in the nature of the atmosphere of GJ 1214b… 2OBSERVATIONS Photometric observations of GJ 1214b were conducted using the GTC telescope on La Palma. © 2021 Astrobites | All Rights Reserved | Supported by AAS | Designed by Elegant Themes | Powered by WordPress, Detecting Transiting Planets Around White Dwarfs, Kepler-10c: A Newly Validated Kepler Planet in a Multiple System, Two Earth-sized worlds in an alien planetary system, Guide to Classification of Galaxies and AGNs, High Resolution, Differential, Near-infrared Transmission Spectroscopy of GJ 1214b, Cool Stars 17: Winning Posters | astrobites, “What’s in a name?” Classifying Hot Jupiters into Four Classes | astrobites, WASP-12b: Not a Carbon Planet After All? Clouds in the atmosphere of the super-Earth exoplanet GJ 1214b @article{Kreidberg2014CloudsIT, title={Clouds in the atmosphere of the super-Earth exoplanet GJ 1214b}, author={L. Kreidberg and J. L. Bean and J. A robust determination by The authors go through the complicated process of extracting the spectra from the echelle spectrograph data and removing the systematic effects. According to Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics scientist and lead author Zachory Berta, "GJ1214b is like no planet we know of. When the first exoplanet atmosphere was measured in 2002, … We explore cloudy, extended H2-He atmosphere scenarios for the warm super-Earth GJ 1214b using an optimal estimation retrieval technique. The initial spectra of this planet also showed no features, but indicated GJ 1214b's atmosphere was dominated by water vapor or hydrogen, with high-altitude clouds. Finally, we conclude with a summary of our findings in Section 6. The technique works by taking observations of the transit light curve at different wavelengths. We explore cloudy, extended H2–He atmosphere scenarios for the warm super-Earth GJ 1214b using an optimal estimation retrieval technique. GJ 1214b was the first planet discovered by the MEarth project, which surveys small, red M-dwarf stars to find transiting exoplanets (for a nice review of the transit method, see this astrobite). An artist's conception shows a super-Earth known as GJ 1214b with its parent star and another world. But GJ 1214b, which is located 40 light-years from Earth in the constellation Ophiuchus (The Serpent Bearer), is something new altogether, researchers said. The newly discovered planet GJ 1214b is the first known transiting super-Earth requiring a significant atmosphere to explain its observed mass and radius. An atmosphere that is not depleted in either methane or carbon is specifically ruled out. It is also the first super-Earth around which an atmosphere has been found. It orbits a red-dwarf star at a distance of 1.2 million miles (2 million kilometres), giving it an estimated surface temperature of 446 degrees Fahrenheit (230 degrees Celsius) — too hot to host life as we know it. GJ 1214b is located in the constellation Ophiuchus, some 40 light-years from us. Super-Earth 40 light years away 'is rich in water with a thick, steamy atmosphere', confirm Japanese astronomers. For that reason, scientists have nicknamed the planet "the waterworld". According to Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics scientist and lead author Zachory Berta, "GJ1214b is like no planet we know of. The standard-bearer for this new class of exoplanet is called GJ 1214b, which astronomers first discovered in December 2009. The radius of GJ 1214b lies 0.49 ± 0.13 R E above the water-world curve (caption to their figure 3). There are also tantalizing hints that the planet has a gaseous atmosphere. There was a problem. The observed spectrum, however, is featureless. Get breaking space news and the latest updates on rocket launches, skywatching events and more! Please refresh the page and try again. The same is true for Kepler-11f. Here we further examine the possibility that GJ 1214b does indeed possess a hydrogen-dominated atmosphere, which is the hypothesis that is … The observed spectrum, however, is featureless. Recent observations of the transiting super-Earth GJ 1214b reveal that its atmosphere may be hydrogen-rich or water-rich in nature, with clouds or hazes potentially affecting its transmission spectrum in the optical and very-near-IR. The extracted transmission spectrum are compared to the atmospheric models. To date, astronomers have discovered more than 700 planets beyond our solar system, with about 2,300 more "candidates" awaiting confirmation by follow-up observations. (Baraffe et al. The observed spectrum, however, is featureless. We show that the atmospheric circulation is strong enough to transport micrometric cloud particles to the upper atmosphere and generally leads to a minimum of cloud at the equator. GJ 1214b is located in the constellation Ophiuchus, some 40 light-years from us. Given the planet's mass and radius, its density can be calculated. The super-Earth GJ 1214b gravitational acceleration: 8.93 m s–2 radius: 2.678 R e distance from star: 0.01432 AU stellar flux at planet: 21519 W m–2 rotation period: 1.5803925 Earth days (synchronous) ApJ 773, 144; doi: 10.1088/0004-637X/773/2/144 Published in Please deactivate your ad blocker in order to see our subscription offer. The planet, GJ1214b, has a mass about six times that of Earth and its interior is likely mostly made of water ice. If gas accreted directly from the protoplanetary nebula and was retained in the atmosphere, then the atmosphere would be predominantly composed of hydrogen and helium. Quite possibly. Instead of using photometric observations to get a broadband spectrum, in this paper, the authors actually take spectroscopic measurements using the Keck telescope with the NIRSPEC spectrograph. "A huge fraction of its mass is made up of water.". [The Strangest Alien Planets]. The data seem to confirm that GJ 1214b has a very steamy atmosphere, thick with water vapor. Its atmosphere could consist entirely of water vapor or some other type of heavy molecule, or it could contain high-altitude clouds that prevent the observation of what lies underneath. © In this paper, the authors hope to resolve some of these apparent discrepancies with a high-resolution spectrum of GJ 1214b during transit. These observations are then compared to a suite of atmospheric models. Here we report a measurement of the transmission spectrum of GJ 1214b at near-infrared wavelengths that definitively resolves this ambiguity. In 2010, CfA scientist Jacob Bean and colleagues reported that they had measured the atmosphere of GJ 1214b, finding it likely that it was composed mainly of water. Examples of our recent work include a variety of tools and techniques to discover and characterize exoplanets. They also require a particular analysis of the data, in which they cross-correlate the observations with each model, to have a signal significantly greater than zero. Nature, 505, 69 paper arxiv A Search for Methane in the Atmosphere of GJ 1214b via GTC Narrow-Band Transmission Spectrophotometry Hubble watched as GJ 1214b crossed in front of its host star, and the scientists were able to determine the composition of the planet's atmosphere based on how it filtered the starlight. Clouds in the atmosphere of the super-Earth exoplanet GJ 1214b 2014 KREIDBERG L., BEAN J., DESERT J.-M., BENNEKE B., DEMING D. et al. There have been many previous transmission spectroscopy observations of GJ 1214b. These last two sets of abundances have been previously suggested as a way to resolve the differences between the optical, mid-infrared, and near-infrared observations. Preliminary studies for the properties of clouds and photochemical hazes in the atmosphere of GJ 1214b suggested that both components can provide a flat spectrum (Morley et al. Here, we simulate the atmosphere of GJ1214b with a 3D General Circulation Model for cloudy hydrogen-dominated atmospheres, including cloud radiative effects. The data, obtained with the Hubble Space Telescope, are sufficiently precise to detect absorption features from a high mean-molecular-mass atmosphere. Overplotted are three models for the atmosphere of GJ1214b: a hydrogen dominated atmosphere with solar composition (green line), a hydrogen dominated atmosphere with clouds and low methane abundance (red line) and a water dominated atmosphere (blue line). Instead, the new observations reinforce the notion that GJ 1214b's atmosphere contains at least 50% water by mass. 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