'Iron rain' found on far off planet, researchers uncover

'Iron rain' found on far off planet, researchers uncover

'Iron rain' found on far off planet, researchers uncover

On a particularly hot planet, hundreds of light years from Earth, the forecasts are cloudy with the risk of liquid iron rain.

Using the very large telescope (VLT) of the European Southern Observatory (ESO), the researchers observed a giant "ultra-hot" exoplanet, where temperatures can exceed 2400 degrees Celsius during the day, hot enough to vaporize metals. Research findings were recently published in the journal Nature.

"This causes this extreme difference in temperature between day and night on the planet".

Dr David Ehrenreich, the scientist who conducted this new study, from the University of Geneva, talked with the reporters of BBC that "Imagine instead of a drizzle of water droplets, you have iron droplets splashing down." that really sounds very bad!. Because of that, one side of WASP-76b is always heated by its star and the other side is left in eternal darkness.

Scientists have learned that the planet is so hot that molecules separate from atoms.

The boiling iron particles are bought over from the day side on these winds. "It's nights, with strong winds, cool down the iron vapor so that it condenses into drops of iron", investigators said in the release.

It's parent star - WASP-76 - is a main sequence star about one and a half times the size of the Sun and a surface temperature of about 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Like the Moon on its orbit around the Earth, WASP-76b is "tidally locked": it takes as long to rotate around its axis as it does to go around the star.

'This thing orbits so close to its star, it's essentially dancing in the outer atmosphere of that star and being subjected to all kinds of physics that, to put it bluntly, we don't really understand, ' he said.

On the day side, the planet receives thousands of times more radiation from its parent star than the Earth from the sun. The exoplanet, called WASP-76b, is made mainly of gas. Temperatures at these extreme levels can vaporize metals. Using the new ESPRESSO instrument on ESO's VLT in the Chilean Atacama Desert, the astronomers identified for the first time chemical variations on an ultra-hot gas giant planet. "Surprisingly, however, we do not see the iron vapor in the morning", Ehrenreich notes.

The discovery of the unique rain came from ESPRESSO which stands for the Echelle Spectrograph for Rocky Exoplanets and Stable Spectroscopic Observations. However, it has proven to be much more versatile.

"Ultrahot giant planets are the best laboratories we have for studying extreme climates on exoplanets", added Núria Casasayas Barris, a researcher at the IAC and doctoral student at the Spain's University of La Laguna, in the statement.

'What we have now is a whole new way to trace the climate of the most extreme exoplanets, ' concludes Ehrenreich.

The insane weather on the planet is due to the way it rotates around its parent star.

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