NASA Telescopes Detect Signs of Water on Distant ‘Warm Neptune’

NASA Telescopes Detect Signs of Water on Distant 'Warm Neptune'

Scientists using NASA telescopes have detected “a strong water signature” in the atmosphere of a distant Neptune-sized planet, that could help understand more about the birth and development of planetary systems.

The study, combining observations from NASA’s Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes, shows that the distant planet HAT-P-26b has a primitive atmosphere composed almost entirely of hydrogen and helium. Located about 437 light-years away, HAT-P-26b orbits a star roughly twice as old as our Sun.

The analysis is one of the most detailed studies to date of a “warm Neptune,” or a planet that is Neptune-sized and close to its star.

The researchers determined that HAT-P-26b’s atmosphere is relatively clear of clouds and has a strong water signature, although the planet is not a water world. This is the best measurement of water to date on an exoplanet of this size.

Compared to Neptune and Uranus, the planets in our solar system with about the same mass, HAT-P-26b likely formed either closer to its host star or later in the development of its planetary system, or both.

“Astronomers have just begun to investigate the atmospheres of these distant Neptune-mass planets, and almost right away, we found an example that goes against the trend in our solar system,” said Hannah Wakeford, a postdoctoral researcher at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre in the US.

To study HAT-P-26b’s atmosphere, the researchers used data from transits – occasions when the planet passed in front of its host star.

During a transit, a fraction of the starlight gets filtered through the planet’s atmosphere, which absorbs some wavelengths of light but not others.

By looking at how the signatures of the starlight change as a result of this filtering, researchers can work backward to figure out the chemical composition of the atmosphere.

Researchers pooled data from four transits measured by Hubble and two seen by Spitzer. Together, those observations covered a wide range of wavelengths from yellow light through the near-infrared region.

“To have so much information about a warm Neptune is still rare, so analysing these data sets simultaneously is an achievement in and of itself,” said Tiffany Kataria of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the US.

Researchers were also able to use the water signature to estimate HAT-P-26b’s metallicity – an indication of how rich the planet is in all elements heavier than hydrogen and helium. It gives more clues about how a planet formed. They determined its metallicity is only about 4.8 times that of the Sun.

“This analysis shows that there is a lot more diversity in the atmospheres of these exoplanets than we were expecting, which is providing insight into how planets can form and evolve differently than in our solar system,” said David K Sing of the University of Exeter in the UK.

Xiaomi-Backed Yi Technology Partners With Google to Launch VR Rig With 17 Cameras

Xiaomi-Backed Yi Technology Partners With Google to Launch VR Rig With 17 Cameras

Xiaomi-backed Chinese company Yi Technology earlier this year launched its Yi 4K+ action camera, which was claimed by the company to be the first in camera market to capture 4K videos at 60 fps. Now the company has announced two new cameras, Yi Halo and Yi 360 VR, for professional users and consumers, respectively.

Coming first to the Yi Halo, the camera has been developed in partnership with Google and is especially targeted at professionals. The Yi Halo camera comes with 17 camera units in total and allows users to showcase their creativity while creating VR content. The camera has been developed to work with Google’s Jump professional virtual reality platform. Yi Halo comes with support for various image quality settings including ISO, WB, EV, shutter, and flat colour. Further the newly launched VR camera is capable of shooting videos in 8K resolution at 30fps and 5K resolution at 60fps.

“We designed the Yi Halo to be modular and upgradeable. When new firmware is released, you can upgrade all cameras at once with just a few clicks on the control panel. In the unlikely event a Yi Halo unit camera is damaged in the field, simply replace it with one of the two included spare cameras. When new Yi Halo unit camera hardware is released, simply replace the existing unit camera to upgrade the Yi Halo,” the company says on its website.

The Yi Halo camera is powered by an 18 Ambarella A9SE75 chipset. It comes with built-in Wi-Fi, sports a 2.2-inch LCD screen with 640×360 pixel resolution, and can be controlled using an Android smartphone app as well. The camera offers a battery life of 100 minutes in video recording. The Yi Halo has been priced by the company at $16,999 (roughly Rs. 10,93,000) and will be made available late summer this year.

yi 360 story Yi 360 VR

Moving on to the Yi 360 VR, the consumer-centric camera, as the name suggests, it can record videos and pictures in 360-degrees. It is capable of recording videos with 5.7K resolution at 30fps. The camera weighs just around 170 grams and can be easily carried around by users. The Yi 360 VR camera is powered by Ambarella H2V95 chipset and comes with two 12-megapixel Sony CMOS IMX377 sensors. It features Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac and offers connectivity options including HDMI, USB 2.0 (Type-C), and micro SD card. Just like Yi Halo, Yi 360 VR can also be operated using a smartphone app as well.