Washington, March 17 (IANS): To understand the conditions of the exoplanets, NASA researchers have created an atmosphere on a super-hot planet outside our solar system, here on Earth.
Scientists at the NASA Laboratory Laboratory in California used a high-temperature "furnace" for heating a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide at more than 2,000 degrees Celsius (1,100 Celsius) for the temperature of the molten lava.
The goal was to simulate conditions that can be found in the atmospheres of a kind of extrasolar planet called "hot Jupiters," NASA said.
A planet or an extrasolar planet is a planet outside the solar system. And "hot Jupiters" are gas giants with orbits near their parent stars, unlike most planets in our solar system.
The team started with a simple mix of hydrogen and 0.3 percent carbon monoxide and heated to 330-1.230 degrees Celsius. They also exposed it to a high dose of ultraviolet (UV) radiation.
The tests, published in the Astrophysical Journal, reveal some new details of possible alien atmospheres. Observations of the real planets have shown that their atmosphere is often non-transparent, even at low pressure, where the clouds are unable to form.
The artificial atmosphere of the team also went non-transparent due to organic aerosols that form UV light – solid particles in the air.
"This result changes the way we interpret these foreign atmospheres from hot Jupiter," said Benjamin Fleurri, a JPL researcher.
"Now we want to study the properties of these aerosols. We want to understand how they form, absorb light and respond to environmental changes.
"This can help astronomers understand what they see when they observe those planets," said Flerie.
The study also showed chemical reactions produced significant amounts of carbon dioxide and water.
"These new results are immediately useful for interpreting what we see in warm Jupiter atmospheres," said co-author Mark Sven, an extra-planetary JPL scientist.
"We assume that the temperature dominates the chemistry of these atmospheres, but we also need to look at how the radiation plays a role," Sven said.