On this newly discovered planet heavy metals flow into space

Hubble has identified a planet shaped like an American football that lose heavy metals in space because it has a higher atmosphere about ten times hotter than any other world measured so far.

WASP-121b, so called, it is so hot that it has swollen beyond its ability to maintain its own atmosphere, while orbiting its star every 30 hours.


Astronomers used NASA's Hubble Space Telescope to measure the temperature of an exoplanet called WASP-121b and discovered that the world is so hot that heavy metals really escape behind it, like a wake, while orbiting its star central. It is the first time that scientists observe such a phenomenon.

The planet has a higher atmosphere about 10 times hotter than any other world so far measured. Astronomers think that intense heat is what is causing metals, in addition to lighter materials, to inflate and leave the planet.

WASP-121b is about 900 light years away from Earth, and orbits a star a little bigger and hotter than our Sun. The intense heat of its nearby star has caused WASP-121b to swell like a marshmallow and stretch like an American football. That swelling means that you have less gravitational control over your outer layers.

That is what allows not only light gases such as hydrogen and helium to flow, but even heavy metals such as iron and magnesium. Usually, these heavier materials remain condensed in the lowest atmosphere on a planet, even at scorching temperatures. But the 4,600 degrees Fahrenheit of WASP-121b is enough to lift even heavy metals into the atmosphere.

As new, more powerful telescopes, such as the James Webb Space Telescope, become operational in the coming years, astronomers will be able to search for even more types of materials around these extreme planets.

Video: Dead Planet's Heavy Metal Core Found Rocketing Around a Dead Sun in a Distant Solar System (November 2019).