In recent exoplanet news:

● China is now focusing on the search for a planet like the earth:

Most likely, such a planet exists, but in the relatively nascent field of exoplanet research, no one has yet been able to find it. It’s not for lack of trying. Kepler spent nine years searching for more than 150,000 stars, and although he detected nearly 3,000 new exoplanets, none met the criteria of being Earth-sized in the habitable zone of a similar star. under the sun. Bad luck may have played a role – the authors of the new paper even calculated that statistically, Kepler probably should have found at least one Earth-sized planet in a habitable zone.

Andy TomaswickAn ambitious plan to find Earth 2.0” at Universe today (July 21, 2022)

A team led by Jian Ge at the Shanghai Astronomical Institute believe that using their method – the Earth 2.0 Telescope, or ET – they can locate at least 17 of these planets. In total, they hope to find 30,000 new exoplanets, including 5,000 rocky ones like Earth. Their ambitious space mission will take place at L2 Lagrange tip, next to the James Webb Space Telescope. Their Le paper, by the way, is free to access.

Earth 2.0?

● Earth’s location on a planet may matter to life, according to the Royal Astronomical Society said:

A team of researchers from the University of Toronto applied a three-dimensional climate model (ExoPlaSim) to simulated Earth-like planets with two distinct daytime configurations. The first configuration is a circular continent in the middle of the dayside surrounded by the ocean. The second configuration is the opposite: a circular ocean in the middle of the dayside with land everywhere else. In both cases, the size of the circle has been changed to demonstrate how the planet’s climate depends on the fraction of land for each of these continent configurations.

Among other things, the habitability of a planet depends on its surface temperature and the amount of moisture in its atmosphere. The study models net precipitation, cloud fraction and surface temperature on the dayside of the planet for different land configurations.

The results show that the amount of land and its configuration can have a large effect on the planet’s surface conditions. For models with similar land fractions on the dayside but opposite configurations, the average surface temperature can change by up to ~20oC. The results indicate that the amount of water vapor in the planet’s atmosphere is highly dependent on the area of ​​the ocean without ice on its surface. Planets with high terrestrial fractions have hotter, drier daytime sides with clouds and precipitation mostly confined to small central areas.

Royal Astronomical SocietyThe riddle of life: Earth’s location on a planet can affect its habitability” at News (July 11, 2022)

This finding suggests that planets where most of the surface is ice-free water are better bets for life. On Earth, 71% of the surface is (mostly) water without ice. Additionally, the Earth has the right mass to retain water while shedding gases that are toxic to life.

Here is the ExoPlaSim planet modeling system if you want to install and try it.

● Some exoplanets may present hot clouds of sand if similar brown dwarf stars are anything to go by. (Brown dwarfs are something between a star and a planet.)

With the data combined, the astronomers found conclusive evidence of sand clouds in brown dwarfs. But brown dwarfs only tolerated sand clouds if they had a temperature below 3,100 degrees Fahrenheit (about 1,700 degrees Celsius) and above 1,900 F (1,000 degrees Celsius).

If the brown dwarfs are too cold, the silicates cannot vaporize, and if they are too hot, the silicates can condense into clouds.

Some exoplanets are in the same temperature range, and based on this research, astronomers believe these worlds are likely to host sand clouds as well.

Paul M. SutterEarth has water clouds. Hot exoplanets have sand clouds” at Universe today (July 20, 2022)

astronomy paper requires a fee or subscription, but here is NASA’s view: “Understanding the atmospheres of brown dwarfs and planets where silicate clouds can form can also help us understand what we would see in the atmosphere of a planet whose size and temperature are closer to Earth,” said Stanimir Metchev, professor of exoplanet studies at Western University in London, Ont., and co-author of the study. – Spitzer Telescope

And the James Webb Space Telescope continues to surprise scientists: for WASP-96b, an exoplanet more than 1000 light years away, we Learn this:

With the combined forces of his 270 square foot mirror, precision spectrographs and sensitive detectors, Webb has – in a single observation – revealed the unambiguous signature of water, indications of haze, and evidence of clouds that were thought not to exist based on previous observations. The transmission spectrum of the hot gas giant WASP-96b, taken using the near-infrared imager and Webb’s slitless spectrograph, gives only a glimpse of the bright future of gas research. exoplanets with Webb. [emphasis added]

Recent newsWebb: WASP-96b the most detailed spectrum of an exoplanet atmosphere” at astronomy now

First spectrum of an exoplanet: WASP-96b
Artist’s impression of the Pulsar-planet system
Psr B1257+12 Detected in 1992/NASA/JPL-Caltech

And say we only found the first exoplanet in 1992… Curiously, recent research suggests that exoplanets of this type are in fact quite rare: “less than 0.5% of all known pulsars could host Earth-mass planets.”

You can also read: Among the 5000 known exoplanets, there are some really strange ones. Planets so strange they prompt a rethink of the “planetary rulebook”. To sum up, whatever we see or read about planets in science fiction, something out there is probably even weirder.