WASP-107b is a gas giant rotating around a highly active star of the main K-type sequence, which is 200 light years away from Earth. Using spectroscopy, scientists were able to find helium in the atmospheric layer.
Astronomers managed to find helium in the atmosphere of another world. A group of researchers from the University of Exeter led by Jessica Spock. They were lucky to find evidence of the presence of an inert gas on a super-Neptune-type exoplanet WASP-107b, which is 200 light-years distant and lives on the territory of Virgo.
The main breakthrough regarding the study of exoplanets in the Hubble Space Telescope, demonstrated the abundance of helium in the upper atmosphere of the world, found only in 2017. The signal strength was so huge that there is an assumption that the upper atmospheric layer is drawn tens of thousands of kilometers into space.
Helium is the second most common element in the Universe and has long been considered one of the most easily detected gases on giant exoplanets. But this is the first time that he was found. The research team believes that their discovery could have accelerated the detection of the atmosphere around alien worlds of earth size. Scientists hope to use this technique with the future telescope of James Webb to understand which planets have a lot of hydrogen and helium and how long they can hold atmospheric layers.
WASP-107b is a planet with an extremely low level of density, which resembles Jupiter in size, but with 12% of its massiveness. The temperature of its atmosphere reaches 500 ° C, which is considered one of the coldest among the worlds (except for the Earth).
The new technique does not rely on UV measurements, but uses IR light that can open up new ways to explore the atmosphere of worlds of earthly size. It is also important that helium spreads over a large distance into space in the form of a thin cloud around the planet.
For the first time, helium was noticed as a yellow signature of the spectral line in the sunlight in 1868. The name was given by Norman Lockyer in honor of the Greek titan Helios.