Astronomers have found a «hellish» planet, whose atmosphere can vaporize iron

© Engine House VFX, At-Bristol Science Centre, University of ExeterТак the artist has imagined the planet WASP-121b, whose atmosphere transpires ironAstronomers have found a «hellish» planet, whose atmosphere can vaporize iron© Engine House VFX, At-Bristol Science Centre, University of Exeter

Astronomers first studied the properties of the stratosphere one of the giant exoplanets, and found that it heat up to such temperatures that it could vaporize iron and other metals, according to a paper published in the journal Nature.

«When we first aimed the Hubble at WASP-121b, we saw the glow of the water molecules, which are indicated on the clear stratosphere on this «hot Jupiter». Our theoretical calculations has been pointed out that some planets can be very hot in the stratosphere strongly influence the chemistry and physics of the entire atmosphere,» says Tom Evans (Tom Evans) from the University of Exeter (UK).

Over the last ten years astronomers have discovered thousands of planets outside the Solar system, part of which was similar to Earth in size, while others are reduced or enlarged copies of Jupiter. Now planetary scientists are actively working on the study of the atmosphere to assess whether they exist in life, and uncovering the history of the formation.

Great progress in this direction was achieved in the study of «hot Jupiters» – the largest and most convenient for the study of planets outside the Solar system. Their red-hot atmosphere was similar in composition to the gas envelope of Jupiter and Saturn, composed primarily of hydrogen, helium and hydrocarbons and the heavens, astronomers have discovered an exotic glass and leaden clouds and rain of precious stones.

As Evans says, enough scientists have long suspected that many «hot Jupiters», with record high temperatures of the surface and atmosphere, can have an even more red-hot stratosphere, the temperature of which, as well as her «namesake» on Earth, growing as the distance from the surface of the gas giant.

Today’s telescopes are too small to directly observe the atmosphere of such planets, so scientists have to look for their traces in the glow of the stars orbit «hot Jupiters», based on the properties of the earth’s stratosphere and computer models of hot gas giants.

The problem is that scientists did not know what substances or molecules can serve as an analogue of the ozone, the main culprit of the warming of the stratosphere on Earth. Ozone molecules, as the scientists explain, absorb ultraviolet radiation and convert it into heat, so the stratosphere hot «from above», where these rays more than the bottom, where they fall much less frequently.

Under the iron cloud

Evans and his colleagues tried to find such molecules, by analyzing the spectrum of the hottest exoplanets with the help of Hubble. Watching the recently discovered planet WASP-121b, «hot Jupiter» in the constellation the Poop, scientists have found some very unusual lines in their spectrum indicating the presence of highly heated water vapor and other substances to heat water to such high temperatures.

Trying to understand what substances are contained in the atmosphere of WASP-121b, scientists have created a computer model of this «hot Jupiter». Using this virtual planet, the astronomers added to the atmosphere of various substances, and watched as it changes range when changing the set and concentrations of these compounds.

A similar technique helped them to prove that the upper layer of the atmosphere of WASP-121b is really similar to the stratosphere, the role of ozone in which the two chemicals – titanium oxide and vanadium oxide, nanoparticles and molecules which absorb ultraviolet stronger than ozone.

Thanks to these connections, the upper layer of the stratosphere WASP-121b approximately 1100-1500 degrees Kelvin hotter than its lower part, and the temperature it hit a new record of 2700 degrees Kelvin. This means that the iron trapped in this part of the atmosphere of WASP-121b, not only would start to melt, but it would be ready to «boil» and evaporate.

This discovery, according to Evans and colleagues, confirms that there are two classes of «hot Jupiters», with or without the stratosphere. Further study of WASP-121b and the discovery of other planets of this kind, according to planetary scientists, help us understand what distinguishes them and how to form such «hell» worlds.