Vaporized Metal in the Air of an Ultra-Hot Exoplanet
By admin - October 13, 2020

Using starlight, astronomers began studying the atmosphere of an exoplanet 850 light-years away. Exoplanet WASP-121b often referred to as “Hot Jupiter”, is the hottest exoplanet we have ever discovered. Observations revealed that there were at least seven types of metal in its atmosphere.

WASP-121b – This is a well-known gas giant, which, due to its proximity to its star, is very hot. WASP-121b was first discovered in 2015 and it is 1.18 times the mass of Jupiter and 1.81 times its size. Two years after its discovery, it became the first exoplanet to find water in its stratosphere. Despite finding water, due to the very high temperatures on the exoplanet (2,500 to 3,000 degrees), life on it is unlikely.

The atmosphere of an exoplanet is so hot that its composition must be much simpler than astronomers have thought in previous studies: complex molecules could not have formed at a similar temperature.

However, in a recent study, astronomers found evidence of the presence of vanadium in the planet’s atmosphere, which is a rare metal. The team of researchers also found traces of iron, chromium, calcium, potassium, magnesium, and nickel, and based on earlier observations, we know that there is no titanium on the exoplanet.

“All metals have evaporated due to high temperatures, so the exoplanet air is made up of evaporated metals,” the researchers said.

“Hot Jupiters” are very mystical exoplanets, and analyzing their atmospheres might help us to understand more about them. We do not know why, or how they are so close to their stars, so by studying their atmospheres we can understand if they migrated from more distant orbits if they formed so close to the star.

These studies are also helping us in our search for extraterrestrial life: the methods we use today to find iron and potassium, with the addition of more sensitive equipment, may one day help us find molecules produced by living organisms. For example, such as methane and oxygen.