Astronomers have used the Very Large Telescope (VLT) to discover a new exoplanet that is so hot that it rains iron instead of water.
The planet is called WASP76b, and is an ultra-hot giant exoplanet that's dayside temperature of more than 2,600 degrees Celsius (4712F). This temperature is high enough that it can melt metals such as iron, but what happens is that strong winds push the iron vapor to the other side of the planet where it is cooled and turns into tiny droplets of iron. According to David Ehrenreich, "One could say that this planet gets rainy in the evening, except it rains iron."
So why does this happen on this planet in particular? Phys.org explains that 'iron rain' occurs on this planet because it only ever shows one side of the planet to its neighboring star. This means that the other side of the planet always remains in darkness, much like how our Moon is tidally locked to Earth. Since the dayside side of the planet is so hot, molecules separate themselves into atoms, and metals such as iron begin to evaporate into the atmosphere. Winds then carry the iron vapor to the other side of the planet where it's then cooled, and iron droplets are formed.
Last updated: Apr 6, 2020 at 04:34 pm CDT
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