Droplets of metal falling from the sky?

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SMARTNEWS Keeping you current On This Scorching-Hot Exoplanet, a Forecast of Molten Iron Rain Winds on WASP-76b blow gaseous iron into cooler regions, where it condenses and falls to the planet’s surface as liquid 226583.jpg An illustration showing iron rain showering down on the exoplanet WASP-76b, where a permanent temperature gradient pushes gassy iron into cooler regions, where it turns into liquid (ESO/M. Kornmesser)

An illustration showing iron rain showering down on the exoplanet WASP-76b, where a permanent temperature gradient pushes gassy iron into cooler regions, where it turns into liquid (ESO/M. Kornmesser)

Scientists have recorded a large planet in another solar system (exoplanet) that experiences rain in the form of hot, liquid iron.

This exoplanet is called WASP-76b and lies many light-years away from Earth. This gaseous planet is nearly two times the size of the planet Jupiter and extremely hot because it is very close to its sun, which is also twice as big as our sun.

WASP-76b takes as long to go around its axis (rotate) as it does to go around the star (revolve). It orbits its star in a much closer circle, taking less than two Earth days to complete each lap or revolution. This causes the day facing side to be constantly exposed to temperatures of more than 2,400 degrees Celsius or 4350 degrees F.  The night side or the cooler side is always in darkness, staying a 1,600 degrees Fahrenheit cooler.

On the dayside the extreme heat causes metals, like iron to evaporate into the atmosphere, generating metallic clouds. Wild winds and the forces of rotation pushes the gaseous clouds of iron into the night side. The sharp temperature difference between the day and night side causes the clouds to condense into molten liquid. Scientists observed that it rains iron every day on the cooler side.

Researchers from Switzerland and other European countries have observed WASP-76b with a robust telescope owned by the European Southern Observatory. The observatory is located in Chile and provides stargazing assistance to a number of European countries.

 

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