Silicate Clouds

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Produced by the Space Telescope Science Institute’s Office of Public Outreach in collaboration with NASA’s Universe of Learning partners: Caltech/IPAC, Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian, and NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Video imagery:

·       Illustration of VHS 1256 b: NASA, ESA, CSA, Joseph Olmsted (STScI)
·       Infographic of Webb spectral data: NASA, ESA, CSA, Joseph Olmsted (STScI)

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Colorful gas nebulae, planets, star clusters, and galaxies in space.
Text, News From the Universe.
Clouds of Sand. March 30, 2023. Illustration.
A gas giant with red, dark red, and orange gasses and one large storm oval on the upper third hangs in space.
Text, NASA's James Webb Space Telescope has revealed volatile conditions high in the atmosphere of plant VHS 1 2 5 6 b, 40 light-years from Earth.
Its clouds are made up of silicate particles, which also make up sand, ranging from fine specks to small grains.
The churning atmosphere results in dramatic brightness changes, making VHS 1 2 5 6 b the most variable planetary-mass object known to date.
Spectral data from Webb also show clear signatures of water, methane and carbon monoxide in the atmosphere. A chart titled, Exoplanet VHS 1 2 5 6 b Emission Spectrum Shows Wavelength of Light in microns ranging from 2 to 15 on the x-axis, and Amount of Light Emitted, less at the bottom and more at the top, on the y-axis. The bars for water, carbon monoxide, and methane at the lower micron ranges are high, and they fall off at the higher micron ranges. Silicates are also present at the higher micron ranges.
Text, Researchers say they have only begun to analyze Webb's wealth of data, a key step in understanding these silicate-cloud worlds so different from our own. This news was brought to you in part by the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, MD.