The latest study paper from NASA presents its scientists’ discovery of a new research method that might help ease the search for exoplanets. This redefinition of the search parameters targets the gathering of more exact atmospheric conditions of the respective planet.
“Using a model that more realistically simulates atmospheric conditions, we discovered a new process that controls the habitability of exoplanets and will guide us in identifying candidates for further study,” said Yuka Fujii, the lead author of the new research paper.
New Research Method Could Improve Our Chances of Finding Habitable Planets
Presently, NASA models use atmospheric conditions for a one-dimensional study. Also, they only study exoplanets in the vertical direction.
This newly introduced model calculates the atmospheric conditions in three dimensions. The study team used the new research method to simulate the atmosphere’s circulation on an exoplanet. Thanks to this, they were able to observe swirling clouds and their intricate details.
A planet’s atmospheric conditions are essential when trying to determine its ability to retain surface liquid water. This latter is one of the keys to life, so establishing its presence or absence on a planet is very important.
A too-warm planet will see all its water evaporating into its stratosphere. It would also be broken down into oxygen and hydrogen by the star’s UV light. This phenomenon is named the moist greenhouse effects and was established to be star-dependent.
One of the study co-authors explains that knowing the star’s temperature can help estimate whether an exoplanet close to it might be located in the moist greenhouse effect area.
This new research method will be pushing the current technology as it will look to the swirling patterns of the clouds and try to find small amounts of water vapor. If higher amounts of these are detected, then the exoplanet has higher chances of being in a moist greenhouse state.
Detailed study findings are presented in a paper published in The Astrophysical Journal.
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