Molten Iron Rain Found on Extremely Hot Exoplanet!

Share

WASP-76 Couldn’t Get More Metal! It’s Such a Hot Exoplanet That It Rains Molten Iron!

I’m not gonna lie, I’m listening to Iron Maiden as I type this because… well… Metal! Okay, its also because I’m typing a story about liquid iron rain on an incredibly hot exoplanet. This particular exoplanet might just be the most extreme one we’ve seen yet. 

Before we found WASP-76 (Which even sounds like a heavy metal name, doesn’t it?), the weirdest exoplanet title went to HD 189733 b (a decidedly less awesome name). That world, blue and full of molten glass storms, is also a super hot exoplanet. And while molten glass rain is pretty weird, molten iron rain takes it to a whole new level. 

According to a new study, iron rain likely pounds the surface of WASP-76. The “ultrahot Jupiter” orbits its star around 640 light-years from ours. Its star is part of the Pisces constellation. 

Why So Hot?

Part of what creates the extreme conditions on WASP-76 is its ultra-tight orbit around its sun. A year on WASP-76 is equivalent to approximately 1.8 days on Earth. This means, similar to Mercury, this new hot exoplanet is tidally locked in its orbit. In other words, it doesn’t rotate, and only one side ever faces the sun. On the dayside of the planet, temperatures reach over 4350 degrees Fahrenheit. That is more than hot enough to liquefy most metals and even vaporize some. Hence molten iron rain.

Lest you think the nightside would be much better, however, let’s set the record straight. It’s still around 2700 degrees Fahrenheit on that side, so that side’s pretty inhospitable, too. In fact, because of the temperature disparity between the two sides of the planet, the atmosphere whips around at an astonishing 11,000 mph. That’s around 37 times more powerful than the largest F5 tornado ever recorded on earth. 

Researchers discovered WASP-76 in 2013 and have been studying it ever since. While its mass is roughly the same as Jupiter’s, the planet is almost twice as big in circumference. Scientists theorize this is due to its extreme proximity to its sun. The radiation from such a distance would likely cause such atmospheric expansion in a gas giant. 

Here’s some more info on our favorite new hot exoplanet:

Exoplanet science is an exciting new frontier in astrophysics. Projects like NASA’s TESS telescope, the ESA’s ESPRESSO telescope, and the soon-to-launch James Webb Space Telescope all look toward those blinking stars in the distance in the hopes of finding the next earth-like exoplanet or even stranger new worlds.

Read More:


Enjoying Space Porn? What are you waiting for? Help us out by checking out our Marketplace for some killer gear, or by becoming a Patron! We’d love it if you did.

Brandon Humphreys

Brandon Humphreys

I'm a wizard. I write stuff and it goes from my head into yours - Magic! Apart from that, I am the Senior Editor for Space Porn, a veteran, a rock guitarist, and a teacher.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *