Exoplanet spectrum hints at ‘core accretion’

Published in Chemistry World, 14 Mar 2013

Scientists in the US and Canada have uncovered what could be the most detailed spectrum of an exoplanet to date. The spectrum reveals the presence of carbon monoxide and water, which suggest that the planet formed by core accretion.

Astronomers have detected some 3000 exoplanets since searches began in the late 1980s. Most of these have been spotted by looking for the dimming of a parent star as an exoplanet passes in front, or for a ‘wobble’ in a star caused by an exoplanet’s gravitional field. Both of these methods can reveal the orbits and masses of the exoplanets, and to some extent radii and composition. To get a proper look at an exoplanet’s atmospheric composition, however, a direct image is essential. […]

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