Scientists say the burning bits of ground up meteorites might help them understand the structure of exoplanets’ early atmospheres. The pulverized space rocks were baked for a set of experiments. The experiments have suggested that rocky planets had early atmospheres full of water.
On January 15th, Astrophysicist Maggie Thompson of the University of California, Santa Cruz reported it at the virtual meeting of the American Astronomical Society. The reports also suggested that the air might also have had carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide.
Smaller amounts of hydrogen gas and hydrogen sulfide present were also suggested. There are thousands of planets orbiting other stars according to the discovery of the astronomers. Most of them have rocky surfaces beneath their thin atmospheres.
It is possible through present space telescopes and in future with the help of advanced space telescopes to peek at starlight filtering through the exoplanets’ atmospheres to understand the chemicals they contain, and if they are hospitable to life.
Thompson and her colleagues are examining the rocky building blocks of planets to understand the kind of atmospheres they can create. So basically the astronomers have taken a different approach this time. They are working from the ground up as they are not looking at the atmospheres themselves but rather examining the rocky building blocks of planets.
They have collected about 3 milligrams of small samples for the experiment of three different carbonaceous chondrite meteorites. According to the scientists these are the 1st solid rocks which condensed out of the disk of dust and gas. They suggest that the young sun was surrounded by them and ultimately they formed the planets.