Sizzling Planet Sends Heavy Metals Singing Into Interstellar Space

Myriad weird worlds circle stars beyond our own Sun, and some of these oddballs are so exotic that, until they were discovered, their possible existence did not even enter the wildest dreams of planet-hunting astronomers. Indeed, the first exoplanet observed in orbit around a star similar to our Sun was unlike any of the major planets in our Solar System. This exotic, giant sizzler, dubbed 51 Pegasi b--now known as Dimidium–was discovered a generation ago, and it circled its star fast and close in a roasting orbit. Like our own Solar System’s banded behemoth, Jupiter, Dimidium proved to be a gas-giant world but, until its discovery, astronomers thought that planets like Jupiter could only exist in orbits farther out from their parent-stars–approximately where Jupiter dwells in the outer region of our Solar System. Dimidium was the first hot Jupiter to be discovered, but it was far from the last–and it doesn’t even carry the distinction of being the weirdest. That title may possibly go to a newly discovered football-shaped hot Jupiter dubbed WASP-121 b, that is so extremely hot that it sends its atmospheric “heavy metals”–such as magnesium and iron gas–singing into the space between stars. This observation represents the first time that so-called “heavy metals”–meaning atomic elements heavier than hydrogen and helium–have been observed escaping from a hot Jupiter.

WASP-121 b‘s parent star is both hotter and brighter than our Sun. The oddball planet is so dangerously close to its star that the temperature of its upper atmosphere soars to a roiling, broiling 4, 600 degrees Fahrenheit. A blast of ultraviolet light from the parent-star is heating up the tormented planet’s upper ติดต่อufabetเว็บหลักatmosphere, which results in causing the magnesium and iron gas to go yowling into space. Observations conducted by astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope’s (HST’s) Imaging Spectrograph revealed the spectral signatures of magnesium and iron far, far away from the sizzling giant planet. Worse, the planet is so close to its stellar parent that it is doomed to soon be torn apart by the star’s gravitational tidal forces. Indeed, the merciless and relentless gravitational forces are so powerful that they have changed the planet’s shape from a sphere into a football. The WASP-121 system is almost 900 light-years from Earth.

The observations of WASP-121 b represent the first time “heavy metals” have been detected fleeing from a hot Jupiter. Usually, hot Jupiters are still relatively cool enough inside to condense heavier atomic elements into clouds. But this is not the case with the blazing WASP 121 b. “Heavy metals have been seen in other hot Jupiters before, but only in the lower atmosphere. So you don’t know if they are escaping or not. With WASP 121 b, we see magnesium and iron gas so far away from the plane that they’re not gravitationally bound,” explained Dr. David Sing in an August 1, 2019 NASA Press Release. Dr. Sing, who is of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, is the lead researche