At night on this hot exoplanet, droplets of iron rainfall from the sky. This exoplanet is hundreds of light-years from Earth. In the planet’s atmosphere now, researchers have detected sodium and ionized calcium. From the Gemini North Telescope, all these observations are based on. This telescope is located near the summit of Mauna Kea in Hawaii. According to new findings, the planet WASP-76b is hotter than what scientists thought.
The research is part of a Cornell University-led project called Exoplanets with Gemini Spectroscopy survey. The result was published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters on Sept. 28. At the annual meeting of the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society, it was presented.
In this project, scientists come together who study the diversity of atmospheres on exoplanets. They are planets outside our solar system. According to one of the study co-authors, as they do small sizing of dozen exoplanets spanning a range of masses and temperatures, they will develop a complete picture of the true diversity of alien worlds.
Some of them are hot enough to harbor iron rain, while others have a more moderate climate. Some are even heftier than Jupiter, to others not much bigger than the Earth. The co-author further said that today’s instruments and telescope could learn so much about the atmospheres, their physical properties, constituents, presence of clouds, and even large-scale wind patterns of the planets. These planets are orbiting stars hundreds of light-years away.
So much calcium can be seen in the planet’s atmosphere. This ionized calcium found on the planet could mean that the upper atmosphere winds are powerful. Or the atmospheric temperature on the exoplanet is very high than the researchers thought. Scientists have also discovered titanium oxide and traces of water in the atmosphere. The atmosphere is cloudy and primarily grey. The planet is tidally locked. The same side of the planet always faces the star, and the temperature exceeds 4,400 degrees Fahrenheit.
For the planet, the planetary atmospheric circulation models suggest dense clouds layers are formed of magnesium orthosilicate, neutral iron, or aluminum oxide. The temperature at dayside is hot enough to turn metal into vapor and molecules into atoms, create iron vapor. It is carried over the nightside by rapid winds where temperatures are cooler, around 2,400 degrees Fahrenheit. The iron vapor condenses into clouds, and rains are caused by this that consists of liquid iron. Venus is the hottest planet in the solar system, which has an average temperature of 880 degrees. The average temperature on Earth is 61 degrees. This planet has an exotic and extreme type of atmosphere.
About 30 exoplanets will be studied in the survey, and it will be led by a research associate in Cornell University’s department of astronomy and Jake Turner, a Carl Sagan Fellow in NASA’s Hubble Fellowship program. According to the researchers, their work, and that of other researchers, is making way for exploring the atmospheres of terrestrial worlds beyond our solar system. Understanding the atmosphere of the exoplanet will help astronomers analyze its environment, climate, and weather.