A giant planet 880 light-years away was a star of liquid rubies and sapphires.

WASP-121b is a planet located about 880 light-years away from the Earth in the direction of Puppis. WASP-121b was known to be a giant gas giant planet with a surface temperature of about 2000 ° C, with a mass about 1.2 times that of Jupiter and a radius of 1.8 times that of Jupiter. The research team has newly suggested that it may be an environment where metal clouds float and ruby and sapphire rain.

An exotic water cycle and metal clouds on the hot Jupiter WASP-121 b | Max Planck Institute for Astronomy

This Extremely Extreme Exoplanet Has Metal Vapor Clouds And Rains Liquid Jewels

WASP-121b revolves around the star WASP-121 in a cycle of 30 hours. Since the rotation period is almost the same as the orbital period, one side of WASP-121b is the day hemisphere that always faces the star, and the other half is the night hemisphere that always faces the outside. This time, the research team conducted spectral analysis on WASP-121b in both the daytime and nighttime hemispheres with the Hubble Space Telescope, and investigated the composition of the upper atmosphere.


Kevin Gill

As a result of the investigation, water circulation was confirmed in WASP-121b. On the earth, the water of rivers and seas evaporates to form clouds, and it rains, and the water returns to the rivers and rains. However, the water cycle in WASP-121b seems to be completely different from the earth.

In the daytime hemisphere of WASP-121b, the temperature of the upper atmosphere exceeds 3000 ° C at the maximum, and water not only evaporates but is further decomposed into hydrogen and oxygen. On the other hand, the upper temperature in the night hemisphere drops to 1500 ℃. With a temperature difference of 1500 ° C between the day and night hemispheres, strong winds blow from the west to the east, carrying hydrogen and oxygen to the night hemisphere. Then, hydrogen and oxygen recombine on the night hemisphere side to form water vapor, which is then blown into the day hemisphere again.

In any case, even in the night hemisphere, the temperature exceeds 1500 degrees Celsius, so water clouds are not created like the earth. Instead, WASP-121b has clouds of metals such as iron, magnesium, chromium, and vanadium. Like water, these metal atoms evaporate in the daytime hemisphere and are blown into the night hemisphere by strong winds, condensing into clouds. And the metal cloud is blown again to the midday hemisphere and evaporates.

by Traveler_40

Further spectral analysis revealed that no aluminum or titanium was detected in the atmosphere of WASP-121b. Since the spectrum analysis analyzes the frequency of the light reflected by WASP-121b, we can only understand the upper layer part and cannot observe the vicinity of the ground surface. From this, the research team speculated that aluminum and titanium were condensed and poured onto the surface of the earth, so they were not detected.

And aluminum becomes a mineral called ' corundum ' when it condenses with oxygen in the atmosphere. If this corundum contains impurities such as chromium, iron, titanium, and vanadium, it becomes ruby and sapphire, so the research team may have liquid ruby and sapphire raining on the night hemisphere of WASP-121b. I point out that.

According to Joanna Burstow of the Open University , one of the research teams, the James Webb Space Telescope, which was launched in 2021 as a successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, will continue to research WASP-121b. .. 'The James Webb Space Telescope allows us to measure the amount of carbon in the atmosphere of WASP-121b by covering wavelengths beyond the observation range of the Hubble Space Telescope, where and how WASP-121b is. It will be a clue to know if it was formed, and it will also enable highly accurate measurements to know the wind speed at various altitudes in the atmosphere. '

in Science, Posted by log1i_yk