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December 3, 2013 12:30 PM (EST)

News Release Number: STScI-2013-54

Hubble Traces Subtle Signals of Water on Hazy Worlds

December 3, 2013: Astronomers continue to tally up how many planets are orbiting other stars. But finding out what their atmospheres are made of is another story. Two teams of scientists using the Hubble Space Telescope have found faint signatures of water in the atmospheres of five distant exoplanets. The planets are not the size of Earth, but rather massive worlds known as hot Jupiters because they orbit so close to their stars. Hubble's instruments can deduce the types of gases in the atmospheres of these monsters by determining which colors of a star's light are transmitted and which are partially absorbed as the planet passes in front of its star. The observations demonstrate Hubble's continuing exemplary performance in exoplanet research.

For images and information about these hazy worlds, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/content/goddard/hubble-traces-subtle-signals-of-water-on-hazy-worlds .

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Illustration Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Science Credit: NASA, ESA, A. Mandell (Goddard Space Flight Center), and D. Deming (University of Maryland, College Park)