For the first time, scientists have seen the 'glory effect' on an exoplanet.


An artist's illustration shows the night-side view of the exoplanet WASP-76b, where iron rains down from the sky. 
M. Kornmesser/ESO

,- Astronomers have just made an amazing finding from the depths of space: they have photographed what looks to be a rainbow-like phenomena happening on a far-off exoplanet. This historic finding, made feasible by the Cheops space observatory of the European Space Agency, clarifies the atmospheric dynamics of WASP-76b, an extraterrestrial world located around 637 light-years from Earth.

Usually seen when sunlight bounces off clouds made of a single substance, the phenomena, known as the "glory effect," appears as concentric rings of vibrant light. Even if these events are often observed on Earth, they have been incredibly difficult to find on celestial worlds outside of our solar system. Now one of the rare interplanetary locations where the glory effect has been observed is WASP-76b, an extremely hot exoplanet renowned for its harsh environment.

By using synthetic aperture radar (SAR) technology, the observations from the Cheops space telescope surpass those of traditional satellites in that they enable astronomers to see through clouds and take pictures of far-off planets. Researchers have detected small changes in light intensity coming from WASP-76b by careful examination of these SAR photos, indicating the existence of the glory effect in its atmosphere.

An artist's illustration depicts a concentric rainbow-like phenomenon called a glory effect detected in the atmosphere of the exoplanet WASP-76b. 

A doorway into the special atmospheric conditions existing on this hot exoplanet has been opened by the discovery of the glory effect on WASP-76. The close proximity of WASP-76b to its host star causes it to heat up to almost 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit on its dayside. The planet's growth as a result of this constant radiation barrage has dwarfed even Jupiter in size.

The suggestion that persistent clouds made of spherical droplets, which act as the catalyst for the glory effect, exist on WASP-76b is among the most fascinating features of this finding. These clouds provide important information on the atmosphere dynamics and temperature control systems of this far-off planet. They may include molten iron among other materials.

Astronomers are upbeat about the chances of future observations even if the precise nature of the clouds on WASP-76b is yet unknown. With next missions like the Ariel mission and the James Webb Space Telescope ready to investigate far-off exoplanets, more information regarding the glory effect and other atmospheric phenomena is likely to emerge.

Each finding in the search to solve the cosmic puzzles advances our knowledge of the enormous variety of universes other than our own. A moving reminder of the astounding complexity of the world is provided by the mysterious beauty of celestial phenomena like the glory effect when we gaze into the depths of space.

Source : CNN

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