A New Study Confirms Exoplanet WASP-127b Contains Multiple Metals And May Even Harbor Water

WASP-127b is the first exoplanet detected that holds alkali metals which include lithium, sodium and potassium.

Exoplanet WASP-127b holds multiples metals and possible water.
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WASP-127b is the first exoplanet detected that holds alkali metals which include lithium, sodium and potassium.

A team of researchers from the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) in Spain and the University of Cambridge have published a new study showing that Exoplanet WASP-127b is likely to hold multiple metals in its atmosphere as judged by its ‘fingerprints’, while there is also the distinct possibility that the exoplanet may also harbor water.

Scientists used the Gran Telescopio Canarias (GTC) to determine that this exoplanet features skies that are around 50 percent clear. It was also discovered that while WASP-127b only has around 20 percent of the mass of Jupiter, its radius was still found to be 1.4 times more enormous, as Phys.org report.

There is no planet in our solar system that is comparable to WASP-127b and even amongst other exoplanets, it has been found to be very rare indeed. The length of time this exoplanet takes to complete the orbit around its sun has been measured as being just four days and the temperature on the surface of this gaseous planet is estimated to be a whopping 1400 K (1127° C).

In what marks a first for an exoplanet, the atmosphere of WASP-127b was found to hold the alkali metals of lithium, sodium, and potassium, and the detection of sodium and potassium is an indicator that this exoplanet most likely has a fairly clear atmosphere.

The IAC’s Dr. Guo Chen, who is also the lead author of the new study, confirmed that the presence of lithium may be the key to understanding more about how this particular exoplanet evolved over time.

“The particular characteristics of this planet allowed us to perform a detailed study of its rich atmospheric composition. The presence of lithium is important to understand the evolutionary history of the planetary system and could shed light on the mechanisms of planet formation.”

The host star of this planet, WASP-127, was also found to hold a large amount of lithium, which means that it is highly possible it is an AGB star.

The co-author of the new research, co-author Enric Pallé, observed that detecting the presence of water on this planet will be helped greatly in the future with near-infrared.

“While this detection is not statistically significant, as water features are weak in the visible range, our data indicate that additional observations in the near-infrared should be able to detect it.”

The new study on the presence of multiple metals as well as the possible presence of water on Exoplanet WASP-127b has been published in Astronomy & Astrophysics.