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Exoplanet

Above and Beyond: Alien Air—Atmosphere of an Exoplanet

An astronomer can tell the makeup of an exoplanet's atmosphere by viewing its star's light shining through the atmosphere of that orbiting exoplanet.

Credits

Exoplanets
 
Produced by the Space Telescope Science Institute’s Office of Public Outreach.
 
All images, illustrations, and videos courtesy of NASA except:
 
·       Illustration of planets orbiting a red dwarf courtesy of ESO
·       Illustration montage of exoplanets courtesy of C. Pulliam & D. Aguilar (CfA)
·       Taurus constellation drawing from Firmamentum Sobiescianum sive Uranographia by Johannes Hevelius, courtesy of the United States Naval Observatory
·       Image of solar spectrum courtesy of N.A. Sharp, NOAO/NSO/Kitt Peak FTS/AURA/NSF
·       Animation of planets orbiting star HD 10180 courtesy of ESO/L. Calçada
·       Animation of transiting planet and light curve courtesy of G. Bacon and B. Preston (STScI)
·       Animation of transiting planet with spectrum courtesy of G. Bacon, B. Preston, and J. Godfrey (STScI)
·       Ariane 5 rocket launch image ©2008 ESA – CNES – Arianespace/Photo by Optique Video CSG
·       James Webb Space Telescope animation courtesy of G. Bacon (STScI)
·       Protoplanetary disk animation courtesy of ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)/L. Calçada (ESO)/M. Kornmesser (ESO)/Nick Risinger (skysurvey.org)/Digitized Sky Survey 2
·       Animation of disk and planet around Beta Pictoris courtesy of ESO/L. Calçada
·       James Webb Space Telescope illustration courtesy of G. Bacon (STScI)/Northrop Grumman
·       Animation of HD 189733 b’s atmosphere courtesy of ESA/Hubble (M. Kornmesser & L. L. Christensen)
·       Animation of planet transiting a star courtesy of ESO/L. Calçada
·       Absorption spectrum diagram courtesy of A. Feild (STScI)
·       Illustration of exoplanet OGLE-TR-L9 b courtesy of ESO/H. Zodet
·       Water, carbon dioxide, and methane molecule animations courtesy of G. Bacon (STScI)
·       Emission spectrum of a planet courtesy of J. Godfrey (STScI)
·       Animation of exoplanet GJ 1214 b courtesy of ESO/L. Calçada
 
 
Written by Vanessa Thomas
Designed by John Godfrey
Music courtesy of Association Production Music

Transcript

(SPEECH) 
 [DOWNBEAT MUSIC] 


(DESCRIPTION) 
 A star rises over a gas giant. 


Text, ALIEN AIR. A star's light shines through the atmosphere of an orbiting exoplanet. 


On its journey, some of the light is absorbed by atoms and molecules in the planet's atmosphere. 


When that light reaches Earth, astronomers can inspect the starlight to find out what the planet's atmosphere is made of. 


Someday, such filtered starlight could reveal that another planet in our galaxy is habitable -- or inhabited.