An exciting discovery … a combination of minerals filling the atmosphere of a planet 850 light-years away from Earth


Research into exoplanets, their properties and the possibility of life in them has occupied a huge area of ​​interest for researchers in astronomy and astrophysics.

And in new research published in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics (Astronomy & Astrophysics(And covered by a report issued by the University of Bern)University of BernOn October 8, the team revealed that it had detected a mixture of minerals floating gaseously in the atmosphere of “WASP-121b”, based on the analysis of the star’s light that orbits around it.

When an exoplanet passes in front of its star, some of the star’s light passes through the planet’s atmosphere. Depending on what elements are in the atmosphere, some wavelengths of light will be absorbed and enhanced.

With this, the researchers monitored, using high-resolution sensitive devices at the European Southern Observatory, a full range of wavelengths, which enabled them to know what some of the components of the planet’s atmosphere are.

The researchers found an interesting mineral combination in the atmosphere of one of the most famous exoplanets. They were able to identify an abundance of the rare vanadium metal along with slight fingerprints of iron, chromium, calcium, sodium, magnesium and nickel.

Hot Jupiter planets

At temperatures between 2500 and 3000 degrees Celsius, the atmosphere of planets must be much simpler than what scientists have observed in their previous studies of other planets, because these high temperatures hinder the formation of complex particles.

The researchers explained that all the minerals have evaporated as a result of the high temperatures prevailing on “WASP-121b”, which means that the air on this planet is nothing but a combination of vaporized minerals, in addition to other compounds that are still under investigation and investigation.

The planet was discovered in 2015 outside the solar system, 850 light-years away. It was classified as one of the hottest planets ever discovered. That is why scientists called it “hot Jupiter” because it is a gas giant so close to its star that its temperature is close to that of the stars themselves.

Stratosphere of Hot Jupiter (NASA)

Its mass is about 1.18 times the mass of Jupiter, its volume is 1.81 times the size of Jupiter, and it orbits very close to its star for an estimated only 1.27 days.

In 2017, stratospheric water (the upper layer of the atmosphere) was found in it, although it is uninhabitable due to its very hot temperature.

The hot Jupiter planets are largely mysterious planets. Scientists have not yet been able to figure out the mechanism and reason behind their great proximity to their stars.

WASP-121b was discovered in 2015 outside the solar system 850 light-years away (NASA)

Develop tools to search for life

Researchers hope such analyzes of planetary atmospheres will help them understand. Also, identifying the components of its atmosphere can help determine whether they formed at their current locations, or whether they migrated to them from a distant orbit.

These studies also help in developing a toolkit for exploring planets in search of alien life. What we use today to identify iron and sodium could one day help find molecules that are produced and used by living things, such as oxygen and methane, with more sensitive equipment.


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