Exoplanets have always fascinated earthlings, now a new study has found that the clouds or haze layers in the atmosphere of 'hot Jupiters' could be preventing a substantial amount of water from being detected by space telescopes. In the study of exoplanets, water holds primary importance including hot Jupiters, whose masses are similar to that of Jupiter, but which are much closer to their parent star than Jupiter is to the Sun.
While astronomers have found many hot Jupiters with water in their atmospheres, but others appear to have none. NASA scientists have been trying to find out what the atmospheres of these giant worlds have in common.
For this researchers focused on a collection of hot Jupiters studied by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. They found that the atmospheres of about half of the planets were blocked by clouds or haze.
It was found that clouds or haze layers could be preventing a substantial amount of atmospheric water from being detected by space telescopes. The clouds themselves are likely not made of water, as the planets in this sample are too hot for water-based clouds.
Scientists looked at a set of 19 hot Jupiters previously observed by Hubble. The telescope's Wide Field Camera 3 had detected water vapour in the atmospheres of 10 of these planets, and no water on the other nine.
They combined the datasets for all 19 hot Jupiters to create an average overall light spectrum for the group of planets and then compared these data to models of clear, cloud-free atmospheres and those with various cloud thicknesses.