Some exoplanets orbit their host star at a very small distance, making them hotter than some stars. As soon as scientists discovered the hottest planet ever in the constellation Cygnus, they analyzed it as much as they could and found out shocking details.
An international team of researchers from the University of Geneva (UNIGE) and the University of Bern – Switzerland (UNIBE), found out traces of iron and titanium vapors in the hot planet’s atmosphere. These vapors where present because of the temperature of that planet which would have well over 4,000 degrees, according to the study published in the journal Nature.
A Very Hot Exoplanet: KELT-9b
In the constellation Cygnus, at 650 light years from Earth, there is a star named KELT-9. It has a temperature of more than 10,000 degrees, and it is orbited by a giant gas planet – KELT-9b. This planet is 30 times closer than our planet’s distance from the Sun.
The planet takes 36 hours to orbit its star and reaches a heat of more than 4,000 degrees.
Kevin Heng, a professor at the UNIBE explains their findings:
“The results of these simulations show that most of the molecules found there should be in atomic form, because the bonds that hold them together are broken by collisions between particles that occur at these extremely high temperatures.”
The team of researchers observed the planet as it transited the host star and analyzed the filtered light to find out the chemical composition of the hot giant’s atmosphere. The HARPS-North spectrograph on the Telescopio Nazionale Galileo (in La Palma) saw a strong signal of iron vapor. The lead author of the study and researcher at the Universities of Geneva and Bern, Jens Hoeijmakers explains that:
“With the theoretical predictions in hand, it was like following a treasure map, and when we dug deeper into the data, we found even more.”
Not only they detected iron vapors but also titanium vapors in the KELT-9b’s atmosphere. These findings reflect the fate of many exoplanets which evaporated so close to their host star. However, being this huge, KELT-9b withstands the intense stellar radiation.
Observations of the high temperature on the hot planet shows that it breaks apart many molecules, and a vital member of the team of researchers, David Ehrenreich, concludes that:
“This planet is a unique laboratory to analyze how atmospheres can evolve under intense stellar radiation.”
Earth’s Fate in 7.5 Billion Years
The Sun will expand in 7.5 billion years, attracting Earth and exposing a face of the planet to the Sun, just like KELT-9b experiences now. The sunny side on Earth will have temperatures of 4,000°F, making rocks vaporize and release gases into the atmosphere, creating metallic rain. The Sun will continue to expand, and Earth will evaporate, leaving behind an iron core that will resist about 400,000 years before it will dissolve into the Sun’s corona after being pulled by its gravitation.
Rex Austinwas born and raised in Thunder Bay Ontario on the shores of Lake Superior. Apart from running his own podcast (Ice Fishing And Other “Cool” Things), he spends his time canoeing and backpacking in Northern Ontario.. As a journalist Rex has published stories for Global News (Thunder Bay) we well as Buzz Feed and Joystiq. As a contributor to Great Lakes Ledger, Rex most covers science and health stories. Contact Rexhere
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