James Webb Space Telescope detects quartz crystals in an exoplanet’s atmosphere

Thousand-mile-per-hour winds are blowing a hail of tiny quartz crystals through the silicate-enhanced, scorching hot atmosphere of a distant gas giant planet called WASP-17b, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has found.

“We knew from Hubble [Space Telescope] observations that there must be aerosols — tiny particles making up clouds or haze — in WASP-17b’s atmosphere, but we didn’t expect them to be made of quartz,” Daniel Grant of the University of Bristol in the UK and leader of a new study on the discovery, said in a statement.

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