This artist’s concept shows what the warm Neptune exoplanet WASP-107 b could look like based on recent data gathered by NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope along with previous observations from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and other observatories. Observations captured by Hubble’s WFC3 (Wide Field Camera 3), Webb’s NIRCam (Near-Infrared Camera), Webb’s NIRSpec (Near-Infrared Spectrograph), and Webb’s MIRI (Mid-Infrared Instrument) suggest that the planet has a relatively large core surrounded by a relatively small mass of hydrogen and helium gas, which has been inflated due to tidal heating of the interior. NASA, ESA, CSA, Ralf Crawford (STScI)

Source: NASA

Authors: NASA Webb Mission Team

Published Date: Mon, 20 May 2024 15:00:00 +0000

Summary: The warm gas-giant exoplanet WASP-107 b is unusually puffy due to its high internal temperature and massive core, as revealed by data from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope and Hubble Space Telescope. The planet’s atmosphere shows surprisingly little methane, suggesting that the interior is much hotter and the core more massive than previously thought. This high temperature is likely due to tidal heating from the planet’s slightly elliptical orbit, which stretches and heats it. The findings help explain the inflated nature of low-density exoplanets like WASP-107 b without resorting to extreme formation theories. The precise measurements of various molecules in the planet’s atmosphere, including water vapor, carbon dioxide, and sulfur dioxide, were made possible by Webb’s advanced capabilities. This research not only clarifies the characteristics of WASP-107 b but also provides insights into the formation and composition of similar exoplanets. Overall, Webb’s data indicate that these planets may have formed with more conventional cores and heated up to achieve their current states.

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