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The planet that rains molten iron: What we know about WASP-76 b

The planet that rains molten iron: What we know about WASP-76 b

Thanks to the Gemini telescope in Hawaii, scientists have discovered the chemical composition of WASP-76 b, which could help us understand the giant exoplanets.

An international team of scientists led by Stephane Pelletier announced that they have conducted a detailed study of a giant exoplanet. WASP-76 b. Using the Gemini-North Telescope’s MAROON-X instrument, the team was able to identify and measure quite well 11 chemical elements Found in the planet’s atmosphere.

What do we know about WASP-76 b?

WASP-76 b is an alien world. It reaches extreme temperatures because it is so close to its parent star, 634 light-years away in the constellation of Pisces. It is about 12 times closer than Mercury to the Sun. The outer planet has a similar mass to Jupiter, but is about six times more massive.

Since its discovery in 2013, scientists have studied it and identified various elements in its atmosphere. In particular, in a study also published in nature In March 2020, a team found traces of iron and speculated that showers of molten iron might have fallen on the planet.

Pelletier used the MAROON-X High Resolution Optical Spectrometer on the Gemini-North Telescope in Hawaii to observe it in more detail. “It has allowed us to study the chemical composition of WASP-76b in unprecedented detail,” he said. Being so close to its star, WASP-76 b has a temperature well above 2000°C. At these levels, many elements that would normally solidify here on Earth (such as magnesium and iron) turn into gases and accumulate in the upper atmosphere.

References: University of Montreal

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