MIT Research may Lead to Finding Habitable Distant Worlds

Posted by on March 6, 2015 in Earth & Space, Sci-Tech, Science, Technology with 0 Comments
Image of exoplanet Kepler-7b.

Artist’s impression of Kepler-7b (Image: NASA, Jose-Luis Olivares, MIT)

Anthony Wood | Gizmag

MIT researchers have developed a method of analyzing data from NASA’s Keplar space observatory, that allows for the detection of clouds present in the atmosphere of distant exoplanets. Whilst such work may seem like blue sky science, the research has potentially profound implications for determining the habitability of distant worlds.

A well-established method of detecting exoplanets is to use telescopes such as Hubble and Kepler, in order to detect the tell-tale dip of light which informs astronomers that a planetary body is transiting across the disk of its parent star.

A team of researchers from MIT has taken this process one step further, observing the subtle scattering of light that occurs as the light from the parent star scatters on clouds in the atmosphere of the distant planets. Depending on the composition of the clouds, the light scatters into different wavelengths, allowing astronomers to guess at the weather prevailing on worlds millions of miles from Earth.


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