For the first time, NASA's space telescope has revealed the atmospheric void of a rocky, Earth-sized exoplanet beyond Earth's solar system, according to a new study published in the scientific journal Nature on Monday. Direct observations from the space telescope of NASA also shows that the surface of the exoplanet, who orbits on of the most common type of stars in the galaxy, resembles the exterior of Earth's Moon and is possibly covered in a dark volcanic rock.
The exoplanet is around 48.6 light-years away from Earth and is one of over 4100 extrasolar planets identified so far by the scientists since 1992. Identified as LHS 3844b, the exoplanet is 1.3 times the size of Earth and orbits around a red dwarf (a relatively cool star). Red dwarf is one of the longest living star in the milky way.
After measuring the temperature differences between the side of the planet constantly facing its star and the dark side facing away from it, the researchers concluded that there is a little if any atmosphere on LHS 3844b.
“The temperature contrast on this planet is about as big as it can possibly be,” Reuters quoted researcher Laura Kreidberg of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts as saying.
The exoplanet, LHS3844b, was detected last year by NASA's newly launched Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, a telescope that pinpoints distant worlds by analysing the dips in the light observed from their parent starts when an object passes in front of them.
What is exoplanet?
An exoplanet or extrasolar planet is a planet existing outside the Earth's Solar System. The first possible evidence of an exoplanet was noted in 1917. However, it could not be recognised. The detection of exoplanet was first confirmed in 1992.
The extrasolar planet was detected in 1988 but could be confirmed only in 1992. As of 2019, the scientists have confirmed 4,103 exoplanets in 3,065 systems, with 665 of them having more than one planet.