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Vaporized Metal in the Air of an Ultra-Hot Exoplanet – SciTechDaily

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The top of the planet’s atmosphere is heated to a blazing 2,500 degrees Celsius, hot enough to boil some metals. Credit: NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon (STSci)

An international team of researchers led by the National Centre of Competence in Research PlanetS of the University of Bern and the University of Geneva studied the atmosphere of the ultra-hot exoplanet WASP-121b. In it, they found a number of gaseous metals. The results are a next step in the search for potentially habitable worlds.

WASP-121b is an exoplanet located 850 light years from Earth, orbiting its star in less than two days — a process that takes Earth a year to complete. WASP-121b is very close to its star — about 40 times closer than Earth to the Sun. This close proximity is also the main reason for its immensely high temperature of around 2,500 to 3,000 degrees Celsius. This makes it an ideal object of study to learn more about ultra-hot worlds.

Researchers led by Jens Hoeijmakers, first author of the study and postdoctoral research fellow at the National Centre of Competence in Research PlanetS at the Universities of Bern and Geneva, examined data that had been collected by the high-resolution HARPS spectrograph. They were able to show that a total of at least seven gaseous metals occur in the atmosphere of WASP-121b. The results were recently published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

Unexpectedly much going on in the atmosphere of exoplanet WASP-121b

WASP-121b has been extensively studied since its discovery. “The earlier studies showed that there is a lot going on in its atmosphere,” explains Jens Hoeijmakers. And this despite the fact that astronomers had assumed that ultra-hot planets have rather simple atmospheres because not many complex chemical compounds can form in such blistering heat. So how did WASP-121b come to have this unexpected complexity?

“Previous studies tried to explain these complex observations with theories that did not seem plausible to me,” says Hoeijmakers. The studies had suspected that molecules containing the relatively rare metal vanadium were the main cause of the complex atmosphere in WASP-121b. According to Hoeijmakers, however, this would only make sense if a more common metal, titanium, were missing in the atmosphere. So Hoeijmakers and his colleagues set out to find another explanation. “But it turned out that they were right,” admits Hoeijmakers unequivocally. “To my surprise, we actually found strong signatures of vanadium in the observations.” At the same time, however, titanium was missing. This in turn confirmed Hoeijmakers’ assumption.

Vaporized metals

But the team made other, unexpected discoveries. In addition to vanadium, they newly discovered six other metals in the atmosphere of WASP-121b: Iron, chromium, calcium, sodium, magnesium and nickel. “All metals evaporated as a result of the high temperatures prevailing on WASP-121b,” explains Hoeijmakers, “thus ensuring that the air on the exoplanet consists of evaporated metals, among other things”.

A new era in exoplanet research

Such detailed results allow researchers to draw conclusions about the chemical processes that take place on such planets, for example. This is a crucial skill for the not too distant future, when larger, more sensitive telescopes and spectrographs will be developed. These will allow astronomers to study the properties of smaller, cooler rocky planets similar to Earth. “With the same techniques we use today, instead of just detecting signatures of gaseous iron or vanadium, we will be able to focus on biosignatures, signs of life such as the signatures of water, oxygen and methane,” says Hoeijmakers.

The extensive knowledge about the atmosphere of WASP- 121b not only confirms the ultra-hot character of the exoplanet, but also underlines the fact that this field of research is entering a new era, as Hoeijmakers puts it: “After years of cataloguing what is out there, we are now no longer just taking measurements,” explains the researcher, “but we are really beginning to understand what the data from the instruments show us. How planets resemble and differ from each other. In the same way, perhaps, that Charles Darwin began to develop the theory of evolution after characterizing countless species of animals, we are beginning to understand more about how these exoplanets were formed and how they work”.

Reference: “Hot Exoplanet Atmospheres Resolved with Transit Spectroscopy (HEARTS) — IV. A spectral inventory of atoms and molecules in the high-resolution transmission spectrum of WASP-121 b” by H. J. Hoeijmakers, J. V. Seidel, L. Pino, D. Kitzmann, J. P. Sindel, D. Ehrenreich, A. V. Oza, V. Bourrier, R. Allart, A. Gebek, C. Lovis, S. N. Yurchenko, N. Astudillo-Defru, D. Bayliss, H. Cegla, B. Lavie, M. Lendl, C. Melo, F. Murgas, V. Nascimbeni, F. Pepe, D. Ségransan, S. Udry, A. Wyttenbach and K. Heng, 18 September 2020, .
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/202038365

Exoplanetary research with the HARPS spectrograph

The HARPS spectrograph is capable of detecting the faint light coming from distant planets with astonishing precision. Jens Hoeijmakers explains: “The atoms in the exoplanet’s atmosphere each absorb part of the star’s light. Each atom thus has a virtually unique fingerprint of the colours it absorbs”. These fingerprints can be measured with a sensitive spectrograph such as HARPS and the chemical composition of the exoplanet’s atmosphere can be derived from them, even if they are many light years away.

The HARPS spectrograph was developed under the leadership of the Geneva Observatory by a consortium that also included the Observatoire de Haute-Provence, the Physics Institute of the University of Bern and the Service d’Aéronomie, Paris.

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The metallic asteroid between Mars and Jupiter is … – AlKhaleej Today

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According to a new Planetary Science Journal report published by CBS News, a giant metallic asteroid, valued at around $ 10,000,000,000,000,000,000 – more than the entire earth’s economy – orbits Mars and Jupiter.

The massive asteroid 16 Psyche is the subject of a new study by SwRI scientist Tracy Becker, who observed the object at ultraviolet wavelengths.

Asteroid 16 Psyche, as it is called, is possibly the remainder of a planetary core that never properly formed into an actual planet. While most asteroids are made of stone or ice, the incredibly dense psyche is mostly metal and about 140 miles in diameter, making it the size of Massachusetts.

The new study by the Planetary Science Journal found that psyche may be composed of iron and nickel, which are typically found in the cores of planets.

“We have seen meteorites made mostly of metal, but Psyche may be unique in that it is an asteroid made entirely of iron and nickel,” said lead study author Dr. Tracy Becker in a statement. “The earth has a metal core, a mantle and a crust. It is possible that when a psyche protoplanet was forming, it was hit by another object in our solar system and lost its mantle and crust. ”

NASA plans to launch an unmanned spacecraft called Psyche on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket in 2022 to reach the asteroid and study its composition and history. This is the first time NASA has reached a body made entirely of metal. The spaceship will hit the psyche in January 2026.

Back in 2017, researchers told CBS News that they would not use the asteroid’s $ 10,000 trillion metal mass for business profits.

“What makes Psyche and the other asteroids so interesting is that they are seen as the building blocks of the solar system,” said Becker. “It’s fascinating to understand what really makes a planet and possibly see the inside of a planet.” Once we get to Psyche, we will truly understand whether this is the case, even if it is not what we are expect. Whenever there is a surprise, it is always exciting. ”

If you like weird and wild science stories head over to IGN’s science news hub. A rogue planet swimming through the Milky Way was also recently discovered. In addition, scientists discovered that the amusingly named “Black Widow Star” is the source of the gamma rays that give Hulk his superpowers.

Oh, and the moon is wet.


Joseph Knoop is a writer / reporter / floating crowd for IGN. Keep it circulating on Twitter.

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It’s also worth noting that the original news has been published and is available at de24.news. AlKhaleej Today’s editorial team has confirmed this and it has been changed and it may have been fully retransmitted or quoted and you can read it and follow this news from its main source.

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Blue moon to light up Halloween sky – Sudbury.com

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Not only is it Halloween, but Saturday night also marks two rare lunar events.

We are in for a blue moon and a micromoon.

According to NASA, a blue moon occurs about seven times every 19 years.

The moon will not actually be blue Saturday night, the term refers to the time when a second full moon occurs in one month.

The last full moon was on October 1. 

A micromoon, opposite to a supermoon, is when the moon is at its furthest point from Earth. 

Victor Arora, observatory co-ordinator at the University of Waterloo, said not only will the special moon be visible all night, but Mars will also be easy to spot.

“On this evening you’ll be looking at the confluence of these two or three different cosmic events…it makes it a little bit more meaningful…If you want to see the full moon rise just basically look towards the sun, and turn around so your back is against the sun, and that’s the direction the moon will be rising from.” 

Arora added being outdoors and enjoying a unique event such as a blue moon, is a great pandemic-friendly activity.

“There has been an uptick in interest among people wanting to observe in the evenings. Things like telescope sales have gone through the roof – I’ve heard, and spending time with your close circle and getting out into nature.” 

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Watch a NASA spacecraft approach and touch down on asteroid Bennu – Mashable

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The rock-strewn asteroid Bennu.

The rock-strewn asteroid Bennu.
Image: nasa

Touchdown.

Earlier in October, NASA successfully collected rocky samples from asteroid Bennu, a relatively small, well-preserved space rock some 200 million miles from Earth. On Friday, NASA released footage of the spacecraft, OSIRIS-REx, approaching and briefly touching down on the rubbly Bennu. The events, seen in the space agency’s tweet below, show OSIRIS-REx carefully descending to Bennu’s rock-strewn surface.

The spacecraft collected some 60 grams, or about two ounces, of fine-grained material during the quicktouchdown, which lasted under 16 seconds. To planetary scientists, this asteroidal stuff is invaluable: Bennu hasn’t changed much since the formation of our solar system (4.5 billion years ago), so the samples provide a glimpse into our past, and how our planets formed.

“They are like time capsules from the beginning of our solar system,” Richard Binzel, an astronomer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a scientist working on the OSIRIS-REx mission, told Mashable. “This is like sampling the original ingredients for making planets.”

(The first ambitious mission to carry asteroid samples back to Earth, Japan’s Hayabusa mission, returned in 2010.)

NASA called the endeavor a “Touch-And-Go (TAG) sample collection event.” The maneuver was indeed a quick “tag” of Bennu’s surface. OSIRIS-REx carefully approached the asteroid for over four hours before briefly touching down and firing nitrogen gas to stir up fragments into Bennu’s sample collector. Then, the spacecraft promptly blasted away. 

OSIRIS-REx captured so much surface material that some of the fine grains even escaped before the collector was stowed away for the return trip home. The spacecraft is expected to arrive on Earth with the invaluable cargo on Sep. 24, 2023. 

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