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For the first time ever, an exoplanet located 880 light-years away was found to have a stratosphere — a layer in the upper atmosphere where the temperature increases the higher up you go. The discovery may help astronomers refine the techniques that could lead to the discovery of alien life on other exoplanets.

The planet, described in a study published today in Nature, is called WASP-121b. It belongs to a class of exoplanets called hot Jupiters — worlds that are so big and hot that they are fairly easy to study, thus allowing astronomers to hone their skills and confirm their theories. Today’s discovery confirms what astronomers suspected: super hot gas giants outside our Solar System can have a stratosphere.

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