Scientists have found an exoplanet with an abundance of helium, the first time helium has been spotted on an exoplanet.
Researchers have used the Hubble Space Telescope to discover an abundance in helium in WASP-107b, a major discovery that would mark the first discovery of the gas outside of our solar system. Before now, scientists had only been able to confirm small amounts of hydrogen and some other elements in the atmospheres of distant exoplants.
WASP-107b is situated about 200 light years from Earth and it has drawn a lot of attention from scientists since being discovered last year. It orbits a very active K-type main sequence star, and using a camera on the Hubble Space Telescope scientists were able to estimate how much helium is on the planet.
Scientists believe that exoplanet WASP-107b is a gas giant and is about the same size as Jupiter, although it has about 12 percent less mass. It completes an orbit around its host star about once every six days.
“Astronomers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have detected helium in the atmosphere of the exoplanet WASP-107b,” reads the statement from ESA/Hubble Information Centre. “This is the first time this element has been detected in the atmosphere of a planet outside the Solar System. The discovery demonstrates the ability to use infrared spectra to study exoplanet extended atmospheres.”