A recently discovered exoplanet (outside of our solar system) may present water clouds, CNN reported.
The exoplanet in cause is known as TOI-1231 b, and it can be found 90 light-years away from us. According to an observation of the planet’s mass and radius, it is thought that it has clouds in its atmosphere.
Researchers believe that the planet is low density and comparable in size to another planet of the solar system we live in.
Jennifer Burt, the study’s lead author and a postdoctoral fellow from NASA’s JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory), stated that the celestial object is comparable in size and density to Neptune, which led the team of scientists to believe that it also has a comparably large, gaseous atmosphere.
The new study detailing the findings will be posted in The Astronomical Journal.
TOI-1231 b is also believed to be relatively cool due to an estimated average temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
A general rule of thumb says that the cooler an exoplanet is, the more likely it is to feature clouds in its atmosphere.
Diana Dragomir, the study’s co-author and assistant professor for the University of New Mexico’s department of physics and astronomy stated:
“Even though TOI 1231 b is eight times closer to its star than the Earth is to the Sun, its temperature is similar to that of Earth, thanks to its cooler and less bright host star. However, the planet itself is actually larger than Earth and a little bit smaller than Neptune – we could call it a sub-Neptune.”
It takes 24 Earth days for the exoplanet to complete an entire orbit of its M dwarf star, called NLTT 24399.
Scientists believe that the size of TOI-1231 b is similar to that of another exoplanet known as K2-18 b, which was first seen in 2015.
However, they only recently figured out that there is water in the atmosphere.