A new method will offer the ability to tell if a rocky exoplanet, the type of exoplanets that are deemed to be similar to Earth, has an atmosphere.
Astronomers have observed a generous number of exoplanets during the last ten years, and many of them sport traits that are similar to the ones possessed by Earth. Many tend to be placed in the habitable zone, a golden area around a star. Planets who are present in this area receive a perfect amount of energy from the star, which facilitates the presence of liquid water on the surface.
While this factor is important, it is also well-known that many of these planets orbit active M-dwarf stars. These stars generate powerful winds and cosmic radiation that can obliterate young atmospheres without problems.
New Method To Allow Researchers To Find Earth-Like Exoplanets
A team of researchers elaborated on a paper which focuses on the new method and several relevant topics. Previous works did not explore The atmospheres of other rocky planets besides the ones found within the confines of our solar system, and valuable information could be collected in the future.
Within the paper, the researchers argue that rocky exoplanets should be observed before they pass behind the parent star and this data should be compared with the amount of light released by the star. By calculating the distance between the planet and the star, researchers can approximate the amount of radiation that is released in the process.
If a planet re-radiates all the light, it does not have an atmosphere. If some of the light seems to be missing, an atmosphere may have distributed or scattered some of the radiation. The team plans to harness the power of the James Webb Space Telescope, which should be launched in less than two years, to collect more data. The paper was published in a scientific journal.