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JWT Discovered Quartz Crystals In The Clouds Of Exoplanet WASP-17b

Researchers have discovered tiny quartz crystals in high-altitude clouds on exoplanet WASP-17 b. This is a hot Jupiter located 1300 light years from Earth. The planet’s emission spectrum data, collected by the James Webb Telescope, represents the first observation of pure silicon oxide (SiO₂) in the atmosphere of an exoplanet.

The secret of the appearance of pure quartz crystals in the atmosphere of WASP-17b is that its atmosphere is extremely heated by a nearby star – there is about 1500 ° C on the night side. High temperature and pressure, a thousand times greater than on the surface of the Earth, causes quartz crystals to form directly from the gaseous medium, bypassing the liquid phase. Observations reveal quartz haze at the boundary of light and shadow. The crystals evaporate again when they are carried by the wind to the solar side and arise during atmospheric movement to the dark side of the exoplanet.

Webb observed WASP-17 for 10 hours, collecting more than 1,275 brightness measurements of mid-infrared light with wavelengths ranging from 5 to 12 microns as the planet moved across the star’s disk.

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