Image credit: NAOJ, artists impression of GJ 3470b and its host star.
A team of astronomers using the LCOGT network, detected light scattered by tiny particles giving off a blue hue, called Rayleigh scattering, through the atmosphere of a Neptune-size transiting exoplanet, which suggests it has a blue sky.
The result was published in the Astrophysical Journal on November 20 and is available on ArXiV.
GJ 3470b is a warm Neptune-size planet transiting a M dwarf star. Like the handful of other small exoplanets for which transmission spectroscopy has been obtained, GJ 3470b exhibits a flat spectrum in the near- and mid-infrared. Recently, a tentative detection of Rayleigh scattering in its atmosphere has been reported.
Dr. Dragomir, who carried out the project while she was a researcher at LCOGT, says:
“This detection brings us closer to understanding the nature of increasingly smaller exoplanets through the use of a novel approach which allows us to probe the atmospheres of exoplanets even if they are cloudy.”