Water, Weird Clouds Found on Alien ‘Warm Neptune’
Astronomers have spotted water vapor and evidence of exotic clouds in the atmosphere of an alien planet known as HAT-P-26b.
This ‘warm Neptune’ is a much smaller planet than those we have been able to characterize in depth, so this new discovery about its atmosphere feels like a big breakthrough in our pursuit to learn more about how solar systems are formed, and how it compares to our own.
HAT-P-26b lies about 430 light-years away from Earth. The alien planet circles very close to its host star, completing one orbit every 4.2 Earth days. This proximity suggests that HAT-P-26b is tidally locked, showing the same face to its star at all times.