There is a planet about 40 light years away from Earth. The planet, named GJ 1214b, is always shrouded in thick clouds. Therefore, scientists could not know what would be under these clouds.
This planet is a type of mini-Neptune planet. These mini-Neptunes have a thick hydrogen and helium atmosphere, just like Neptune. Inside the ice, Scientists speculate that there may be seas of molten rock.
So far, it’s only a guess, and no one knows for sure what lies beneath the dense cloud cover of these Mini Nep Islands.
But now, with the help of the James Webb Space Telescope, scientists have been able to break through these clouds and study the planet’s surface.
With the help of powerful infrared cameras installed at James Webb, astronomers were able to break through the clouds and study the planet’s surface. Their findings were presented in the May 10 issue of the journal Nature.
According to this study, they found that GJ 1214b’s atmosphere contains a lot of water vapor. What this indicates is that once upon a time, this planet was a Water World covered by a vast ocean of water.
Since the discovery of this planet about ten years ago, scientists have only known that it is covered by very thick clouds.
What can be studied like this is not something that can be seen directly with a lens. Astronomers from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab recorded the day and night surface temperatures of this planet for several days and calculated the answer mathematically.
The difference between the day and night temperatures of GJ 1214b is very large. During the day, the temperature reaches 280 degrees Celsius, and at night, it drops to 220 degrees Celsius.
This difference between day and night of about 60 degrees Celsius is a difference that has never been seen anywhere in the world. It’s like being in the Sahara desert during the day, and the polar ice storm at night is a different temperature difference.
What such a large temperature difference indicates is that the planet’s atmosphere is not made up of light hydrogen gas, as previously thought. Instead, they concluded that the atmosphere must contain many heavy gas molecules, such as water vapor or methane gas.
This fact partially reveals the past life of this planet. According to NASA scientists, when this planet was first formed, it was composed of many molecules containing ice or water. If it didn’t start out with a lot of hydrogen gas, it might have lost a lot of hydrogen to space over its lifetime.
The most obvious answer is that the tent was originally formed with a lot of water. Also, it is considered possible that the birth was not in the current orbit but occurred further away from the mother star and then came to an orbit close to the mother star for some reason.
There is still much to learn about mini-Neptunes like GJ 1214b. Scientists plan to use the James Webb Telescope to continue studying many more mini-Neptune islands.