Hubble Uncovers a ‘Heavy Metal’ Exoplanet

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Hubble Uncovers a ‘Heavy Metal’ Exoplanet

Post by bystander » Wed Aug 07, 2019 10:01 pm

Hubble Uncovers a ‘Heavy Metal’ Exoplanet Shaped Like a Football
NASA | GSFC | STScI | HubbleSite | 2019 Aug 01
STScI-H-p1919a_Wasp121b-d1280x720[1].png
This artist's illustration shows an alien world that is losing magnesium and iron gas
from its atmosphere. The observations represent the first time that so-called
"heavy metals"—elements more massive than hydrogen and helium—have been
detected escaping from a hot Jupiter, a large gaseous exoplanet orbiting very
close to its star. Credits: NASA, ESA, and J. Olmsted (STScI)

How can a planet be "hotter than hot?" The answer is when heavy metals are detected escaping from the planet's atmosphere, instead of condensing into clouds.

Observations by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope reveal magnesium and iron gas streaming from the strange world outside our solar system known as WASP-121b. The observations represent the first time that so-called "heavy metals"—elements heavier than hydrogen and helium—have been spotted escaping from a hot Jupiter, a large, gaseous exoplanet very close to its star.

Normally, hot Jupiter-sized planets are still cool enough inside to condense heavier elements such as magnesium and iron into clouds.

But that's not the case with WASP-121b, which is orbiting so dangerously close to its star that its upper atmosphere reaches a blazing 4,600 degrees Fahrenheit. The WASP-121 system resides about 900 light-years from Earth. ...

Hubble Uncovers 'Heavy Metal' Exoplanet Shaped Like a Football
Cornell University | 2019 Aug 01

Distant “Heavy Metal” Gas Planet is Shaped Like a Football
University of Maryland | CMNS | 2019 Aug 01

The Hubble Space Telescope PanCET Program: Exospheric Mg II and Fe II in the
Near-Ultraviolet Transmission Spectrum of WASP-121b Using Jitter Decorrelation
~ David K. Sing et al
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