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Exoplanet observed for the first time with optical interferometry

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The ESO (European Southern Observatory) has announced the successful observation of an exoplanet using optical interferometry. It is the first time that an exoplanet has been "seen" in this way and that technology provides a promising example of differentiation providing new information about the atmospheres of exoplanets. Changes and characterizations are considered crucial to the discovery of other planets in the galaxy that make up the planet Could support life.

Astronomical interferometry is the process of combining information from multiple separate telescopes to observe a given target in more detail than a single telescope could provide. The combination of several smaller mirrors does not provide all the benefits of a single large telescope – the total amount of light collected is less than a single large mirror – but it allows very high angular resolutions and avoids the enormous costs associated with casting mirrors.

The ESO scientists observed the exoplanet HR8799e with the Very Large Telescope (VLT) offer in Chile, which combines data from four telescopes with its interferometer. Each telescope is 8.2 meters long. Although HR8799e is one of the few exoplanets whose movement we have confirmed by direct imaging. You can see it below in the GIF (according to Wikipedia, HR8799e is the point that starts on the right):


Image from Wikipedia.

Direct observation of the exoplanet has led to some surprising discoveries. We already knew that HR8799e is a very young planet at 30 million years old. The planet is literally still glowing with residual heat from its formation and an ambient temperature of ~ 1,000 ° C. The new VLT observations improved the understanding of the spectrum of HR8799e by a full magnitude and showed that its atmosphere contains different compounds than we expected had.

Our analysis showed that HR8799e contains an atmosphere that contains far more carbon monoxide than methane – something that is not expected from the balance chemistry, "explains team leader Sylvestre Lacour researcher CNRS at the Observatoire de Paris – PSL and the Max Planck Institute of Extraterrestrial Physics. "We can best explain this surprising result if the winds in the atmosphere are very vertical and prevent the reaction of carbon monoxide with hydrogen to form methane."

The atmosphere was also found to contain clouds of iron and silicate dust What concerns the entire gas giant is lost in a colossal storm. Lacour points out that the planet is lit from the inside, with light rays penetrating stormy dark clouds. The silicates and iron then rain in the interior. This last process is not unique for HR8799e. Astronomers believe that diamonds also fall like rain within Jupiter and Saturn.

Astronomers hope to conduct more direct observations of exoplanetary atmospheres in the future as next-generation observatories go online and our observation techniques continue to improve. We may have found nearly 3,000 exoplanets, but our understanding of their atmospheres is still very limited. At this point, every planet we envision will probably tell us something we did not know before, about the likely atmospheric composition of different worlds, and about the place where we should focus our search for life.

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