Astronomers discover water vapor in Super Neptune’s atmosphere

UNITED STATES (VOP TODAY NEWS) — New Year’s Eve occurs every 47.5 hours on exoplanet TOI 674b, roughly the size of Neptune, making it very rare.

Despite years of searching, surprisingly few medium-sized gas giants with orbits shorter than a few days have been seen, creating what astronomers call the Neptunian desert of incredibly hot, star-slicing intermediate-mass planets.

Fortunately, astronomers have noticed something else unusual about this newly discovered mid-range giant, a discovery that may help us explain why it’s so special: there are hints of water in its atmosphere.

Observing water on planets far from our own oceanic world is interesting for a number of reasons, not least because we can understand how unique our own planet can be.

But having a breakdown of the types of gases in an exoplanet’s atmosphere, especially water vapor, is like having the details of her cosmic birth certificate, giving planetary scientists a clearer picture of how and where she formed in her star system.

Knowing how TOI 674b got into such a heated embrace with its star will help us get a bigger picture of how other star systems evolve, and whether our own is a dull normal or a unique gem in an ocean of chaos.

The preprint is available on arXiv and has been submitted to The Astrophysical Journal.

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