It rains irons on this planet
Astronomers have observed a distant planet where it probably rains iron. It may sound like an episode from Star Trek or Dr Who but that’s true.
Wasp-76b, as it’s known, orbits so close in to its host star, its dayside temperatures exceed 2,400C – hot enough to vaporise metals. WASP-76b is tidally-locked, only ever showing one side to its parent star, WASP-76, much the same way the moon only ever shows on face to the Earth.
The planet’s nightside, on the other hand, is 1,000 degrees cooler, allowing those metals to condense and rain out.
The wild finding helps astronomers learn more about the extreme climates of distant planets and how they might impact processes across the cosmos.
The Swiss researcher and colleagues have just published their findings on this strange place in the journal Nature.
The team used Espresso to detect iron where day turns to night -- a line called the 'terminator' -- however in reverse, where the terminator turns from night to day, they couldn't detect the same signal. When the vaporized iron gets to the night side it condenses and rains down on WASP-76b.