Webb Telescope Reveals Quartz Crystals in Distant Planet’s Sky

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has unveiled the presence of high-altitude clouds on the gas giant planet WASP-17b. 

However, these are not your typical clouds; they are composed of tiny quartz crystals formed by the ferocious winds whipping through the planet’s extreme atmosphere.

WASP-17b, a distant and exotic world, orbits its host star every 3.7 days at an astonishingly close distance of 7.8 million kilometers (4.9 million miles). 

Located 1,300 light-years from Earth, this gas giant defies our understanding of planetary dimensions and weather. Its scorching dayside temperatures soar to an astonishing 1,500 degrees Celsius (approximately 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit).

As researchers at the University of Bristol in the UK, led by Daniel Grant, discovered, the atmosphere of WASP-17b is a vortex of extreme conditions. 

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James Webb Space Telescope Discovers Quartz Clouds

Webb-telescope-reveals-quartz-crystals-in-distant-planet's-sky
The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has unveiled the presence of high-altitude clouds on the gas giant planet WASP-17b.

While previous observations from the Hubble Space Telescope hinted at the presence of aerosols small particles that constitute clouds or haze, the revelation that these clouds are composed of quartz is a revelation that has astounded scientists.

WASP-17b is not your average gas giant. Due to its proximity to its parent star, the planet’s atmosphere has expanded dramatically, reaching a width of approximately 285,000 kilometers (176,892 miles) – nearly twice the diameter of Jupiter. 

This is all the more astonishing, considering WASP-17b has only about half the mass of Jupiter. In the realm of exoplanets, WASP-17b stands out as one of the most inflated, earning its reputation as one of the “puffiest” known planets.

The unusual features of WASP-17b make it an ideal target for the JWST, equipped with advanced instruments capable of peering into the atmospheres of distant worlds. 

With its ability to discern the composition of high-altitude clouds, the JWST is reshaping our understanding of the cosmos and providing insights into the extreme weather systems found on other planets.

The discovery of quartz clouds on WASP-17b not only showcases the incredible capabilities of the James Webb Space Telescope but also raises intriguing questions about the formation and dynamics of these exotic clouds in the most extreme of environments. 

As we delve deeper into the cosmos, the mysteries of the universe continue to unfold, and the boundaries of our knowledge are pushed further.

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Source: Space

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