What does research say about the components of carbon-rich exoplanets?

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Harsirat Kaur
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Carbon-rich exoplanets are the planets that orbit the stars other than the Sun. They are far away in the solar system. Well, what makes them unique, and why are the scientists keen on finding more information about them? A carbon-rich exoplanet automatically becomes relevant because it has minerals in it. However, the minerals in question are not just ordinary ones, rather the ones that are excruciatingly made and cherished forever. There were talks about whether these exoplanets have diamonds and silica as main minerals. So, NASA sent its Hubble telescope and Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, including Kepler, to provide insights on the properties of these exoplanets.

Carbon-rich exoplanets research
Left- an unaltered carbon planet, silicon carbide mantle
Right- a transformed diamond mantle, along with the production of gases like methane and hydrogen.

The Planetary Science Journal on carbon-rich exoplanets

In a recent study in The Planetary Science Journal, a group of researchers from Arizona State University and The University of Chicago has actually confirmed that some carbon-rich exoplanets, may be made of diamonds and silica. Stars and planets form from the same cloud of gas, so usually, the majority of their components are the same. A star that has low carbon to oxygen ratio will have planets like Earth. The main components are silicates and oxides with a very small diamond content, usually 0.001 percent.

However, exoplanets near stars have a higher carbon to oxygen ratio which makes the diamond quantity in them quite manifold. The researchers formed a hypothesis in which they stated that in the presence of water, these exoplanets can turn into diamonds and silicate. To test this, they used high heat and high-pressure diamond-anvil cells. To create the high pressure first, they immersed silicone carbide in water. They monitored it using laser heating. the result, hence, came out positive making their hypothesis successful.

Are they habitable?

How do you know that there is life on other planetary units? By analyzing light.

When the spectroscopy technique is used to understand the lights shot by a star, the effect comes as a bar code. The slices missing from it tells about the constituents present in that atmosphere.

Carbon-rich exoplanets research about their composition
Different colors correspond to different wavelengths of light. Missing colors show up as black lines, indicating specific gases are present, because each gas absorbs light in a specific wavelength.–Source: NASA

However, the carbon-rich exoplanets in question do not seem to have a habitable property. The reason is that these exoplanets are not geologically active. Atmospheres are critical for life. Hence, the atmosphere may not correlate with humans to live. Anyhow, this research of exoplanets is one step closer to understand better the science of carbon-rich exoplanets.

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