Exoplanet without clouds is the first of its kind ever discovered

Researchers have revealed that an exoplanet called WASP-96b, which is described as a "hot Saturn," doesn't have any clouds. This is a first for known exoplanets, according to the team led by University of Exeter's Dr. Nikolay Nikolov. The discovery was made in part using the Very Large Telescope located in Chile. With it, researchers studied the planet as it passed in front of its star.

Using the telescope, researchers were able to study the exoplanet's atmosphere, which they say doesn't contain any clouds. This determination was made based on the detection of sodium; that, according to the university, is only possible in a cloudless atmosphere. The findings were detailed earlier this week in a study published in Nature.

Talking about the discovery, Dr. Nikolov said:

We've been looking at more than twenty exoplanet transit spectra. WASP-96b is the only exoplanet that appears to be entirely cloud-free and shows such a clear sodium signature, making the planet a benchmark for characterization.

The cloudless environment enabled the researchers to take a measurement of how much sodium is in the planet's atmosphere, revealing that it is similar to planets in our own system. The discovery also helps researchers determine what the clouds on these gas-giant exoplanets are made of.

WASP-96b's atmosphere is described as unique and it offers the chance to learn other things about the exoplanet, including details on the presence of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, water, and other molecules. Other telescopes will be used to study these, including the Hubble and James Webb Space Telescopes.

SOURCE: University of Exeter