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Cloud-free exoplanets are exceedingly rare; astronomers estimate that but 7% of exoplanets have clear atmospheres.

Cloud-free exoplanets are exceedingly rare; astronomers estimate that but 7% of exoplanets have clear atmospheres.

Cloud-free exoplanets are exceedingly rare; astronomers estimate that but 7% of exoplanets have clear atmospheres.

For example, the primary and only other known exoplanet with a transparent atmosphere, WASP-96b, was discovered in 2018.

Astronomers believe studying exoplanets with cloudless atmospheres can cause a far better understanding of how they were formed.

“Their rarity suggests something else goes on or they formed in a different way than most planets,” said Munazza Alam, an astronomer at the Harvard & Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

“Clear atmospheres also make it easier to review the chemical composition of planets, which may help identify what a planet is formed of.”

WASP-62b was first detected in 2012 through the Wide Angle look for Planets (WASP) South survey.

The planet orbits WASP-62, an F-type star located 575 light-years away within the constellation of Dorado.

The alien world is about half the mass of Jupiter and orbits its host star once every 4.4 days at a distance of 0.06 AU.

Using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, Alam and colleagues recorded data and observations of WASP-62b using spectroscopy, the study of the electromagnetic waves to assist detect chemical elements.

The astronomers specifically monitored the earth because it swept ahead of its host star 3 times, making visible-light observations, which may detect the presence of sodium and potassium during a planet’s atmosphere.

“I’ll admit that initially, I wasn’t too excited about this planet. But once I began to take a glance at the info, I got excited,” Alam said.

While there was no evidence of potassium, sodium’s presence was strikingly clear.

The researchers were ready to view the complete sodium absorption lines in their data or its complete fingerprint.

“Clouds or haze within the atmosphere would obscure the entire signature of sodium, and astronomers usually can only figure out small hints of its presence,” Alam said.

“This is smoking-gun evidence that we are seeing a transparent atmosphere.”

The study was published within the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

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