Ultrahot Jupiters burn off water in their atmosphere

Scientists have found that ultrahot Jupiters' burning atmospheres destroy hydrogen and oxygen molecules before they can form water.
By Joseph Scalise | Aug 11, 2018
Scientists from Arizona State University have discovered the dayside atmosphere of ultrahot Jupiter-like worlds act much more like a star than a planet, according to a newstudypublished in Astrology and Astrophysics.

Such worlds have confused scientists for years because, despite the fact that they are planets, they have extremely improbable compositions. More specifically, their atmospheres contain no water vapor.

This new study sheds light on the celestial bodies and reveals what makes them so unique.

"Interpreting the spectra of the hottest of these Jupiter-like planets has posed a thorny puzzle for researchers for years," said study co-author Michael Line, a researcher at Arizona State University, according toScience Daily.

In the research, the team found that while ultrahot Jupiters contain the ingredients for water, their dayside temperatures are so high that the molecules are ripped to shreds before they can bond.

Unlike Earth, ultrahot Jupiters have one side that is permanently in day and one side permanently in night. The day side is extremely hot, with temperatures reaching between 3,600 to 5,400 degrees Fahrenheit. That is too hot for the oxygen and hydrogen that make up water to exist.

Researchers made that discovery by using a brown dwarf model and then applying it to the worlds. That revealed it is easy to explain ultrahot Jupiters once they are treated like stars rather than planets.

That finding is important because the bodies have been the subject of research for decades. The new research gives insight into them and could completely alter the way scientists think about planets.

"Our role in this research has been to take the observed spectra of these planets and model their physics carefully," added Line, according to Phys.org. "This showed us how to produce the observed spectra using gases that are more likely to be present under the extreme conditions. These planets don't need exotic compositions or unusual pathways to make them."

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