NASA detects signs of water on a distant Neptune-sized planet

May 15, 2017 16:06 IST

NASA scientists have detected “a strong water signature” in the atmosphere of a distant Neptune-sized planet called HAT-P-26b.

The study conducted using NASA’s Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes show that the distant planet has a primitive atmosphere composed almost entirely of hydrogen and helium. Although it is not a water world, its atmosphere which is relatively clear of clouds has a strong water signature.

 Neptune-Sized Planet

Key Highlights

• The planet, which is popularly known as ‘warm Neptune’ is located about 437 light-years away and orbits a star roughly twice as old as our Sun.

• The study is one of the most detailed studies to date conducted on a planet that is roughly the same size as Neptune and close to its star.

• Researchers detected the presence of water by pooling data obtained from four transits when the planet passed in front of its host star.

• Researchers come up with the chemical composition of the atmosphere by studying how the signatures of the starlight change.

• The water measured in the planet is one of the best measurement of water to date found on an exoplanet of this size.

• The study has been published in the journal Science.

When compared to planets in our solar system - Neptune and Uranus -that have the same mass, the distant planet (HAT-P-26b) is likely to have formed either closer to its host star or later in the development of its planetary system or both.

CA eBook


• The study would help in understanding more about the birth and development of planetary systems.

• The data obtained will also come handy in estimating the HAT-P-26b’s metallicity, which is an indication of the composition of elements heavier than hydrogen and helium.

• The planet’s metallicity was found to be about 4.8 times that of the Sun.

• This could help in understanding the planet formation.

Is this article important for exams ? Yes6 People Agreed

Latest Videos

Register to get FREE updates

    All Fields Mandatory
  • (Ex:9123456789)
  • Please Select Your Interest
  • Please specify

  • ajax-loader
  • A verifcation code has been sent to
    your mobile number

    Please enter the verification code below

This website uses cookie or similar technologies, to enhance your browsing experience and provide personalised recommendations. By continuing to use our website, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy. OK