An incredible discovery deep in the cosmos could totally change our understanding of our own planet, and the search for alien life in the universe.
Scientists have just stumbled upon a remarkable discovery deep in space using NASA’s Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes, and finding that could further refine our search for alien life and heighten our understanding of our own planet. They’ve found a distant planet called HAT-P-26b that has a primitive atmosphere composed largely of hydrogen and helium that is about 437 light years away oribiting a star about twice as old as our sun.
The paper, published in the journal Science by researchers at the University of Exeter, is the most detailed study to date of a “warm Neptune,” as scientists are calling it. Basically, it’s a Neptune-sized planet that is close to its stars, unlike our own Neptune.
HAT-P-26b probably has an atmosphere that is relatively clear of clouds and appears to have a strong water signature, although there probably isn’t a lot of water there. This finding could have a huge impact on how scientists think about both the birth and development of a planetary systems.
Professor David Sing, from the University of Exeter’s Astrophysics department said: “This exciting new discovery shows that there is a lot more diversity in the atmospheres of these exoplanets than we have previously thought.
“This ‘Warm Neptune’ is a much smaller planet than those we have been able to characterize in depth, so this new discovery about its atmosphere feels like a big breakthrough in our pursuit to learn more about how solar systems are formed, and how it compares to our own.”