Exoplant atmosphere vapourised by its stars' x rays
Astronomer Alain Lecavelier des Etangs (CNRS-UPMC, France) and his team used Hubble to observe the atmosphere of exoplanet HD 189733b  during two periods in early 2010 and late 2011, as it was silhouetted against its parent star . While backlit in this way, the planet's atmosphere imprints its chemical signature on the starlight, allowing astronomers to decode what is happening on scales that are too tiny to image directly. The observations were carried out in order to confirm what the team had previously seen once before in a different planetary system: the evaporation of an exoplanet's atmosphere.
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