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December 14, 2015 11:00 AM (EST)

News Release Number: STScI-2015-44

NASA Space Telescopes Solve Missing Water Mystery in Comprehensive Survey of Exoplanets

December 14, 2015: A survey of Jupiter-sized exoplanets conducted with the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes has solved a long-standing mystery — why some of these worlds seem to have less water than expected. Astronomers have found that planets called hot Jupiters (which orbit very close to their stars) that are apparently cloud-free show strong signs of water. However, atmospheres of other planets with faint water signals also contained clouds and haze — both of which are known to hide water from view. The findings show that planetary atmospheres are much more diverse than expected. Also, the results offer insights into the wide range of planetary atmospheres in our galaxy and how planets are assembled.

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Artwork Credit: NASA and ESA

Science Credit: NASA, ESA, and D. Sing (University of Exeter)