‘Glowing’ water in exoplanet’s atmosphere discovered by NASA

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A ‘glowing’ water atmosphere has been detected on an enormous super-hot exoplanet, offering the strongest evidence yet for a stratosphere on a planet outside our solar system. Researchers using data from NASA’s Hubble telescope observed hot water molecules on WASP-121b, a type of exoplanet called a ‘hot Jupiter.’ This is the first time glowing water molecules were observed on an exoplanet – a planet orbiting a star outside our solar system – and indicates a stratosphere on an exoplanet, researchers said. A stratosphere is a layer of atmosphere, in which temperature increases with higher altitudes. On Earth, it lies some 50km overhead. Earth’s stratosphere is particularly important for life on the planet, as it holds the ozone layer — the shield which protects Earth’s surface from most of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation. "This result is exciting because it shows that a common trait of most of the atmospheres in our solar system – a warm stratosphere – also can be found in exoplanet atmospheres," said Mark Marley, study co-author based at NASA's Ames Research Center.

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