Hubble Space Telescope Discovers New Planet with Second Atmosphere

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               The Hubble Space Telescope was created in the 1970s, funding started in 1977, it has made over 1.4 million observations since its creation. It is appeared in over 18,000 publications of literature. It is named after the famed astronomer Edwin Powell Hubble whose claim to fame was discovering the expansion of the universe in the 1920s. Hubble’s discovery in May 2015, a new red dwarf exoplanet codenamed GJ 1132 B, crossed Hubble’s path. An exoplanet is defined as a planet that orbits the star outside the solar system. The first detection of an exoplanet occurred in 1917, with the first official recognition until 1992. The unique thing about the newly discovered planet is that this one has two fully formed separate atmospheres, unlike a traditional planet. Studies showed that it once had a gaseous atmosphere made up of hydrogen and helium. The secondary atmosphere had formed over the first 100 billion years of its existence.

               As far as environmental properties, the helium and hydrogen-rich planet gradually evolved into a poisonous mixture of methane, aerosols, and hydrogen cyanide gases. On the planet’s ground, it formed heavy volcanic activity in several rocky formations. Unlike Earth, GJ 1132 B is so frighteningly close to the sun that it completes one full orbit every one and a half days. The question on scientists’ minds is whether the planet remains hot enough for fresh volcanic activity to occur and, if it does, to be able to continue. This could be made possible by a phenomenon known as tidal heating, which occurs when friction from and planets orbit and rotation stores of energy disperses heat into and around the planet.

               The planet’s statistics show that it is 1.4 million miles from its star, approximately 41 light-years from Earth. The temperature measures 278°F with a radius of 1.2 times that of Earth. Currently, it is thought that the James Webb telescope, once launched, will be able to study the planet in further detail.

If you would like to read more about the new planet discovered by the Hubble Space Telescope, please click here.