Astronomers have discovered the heaviest element yet in the atmospheres of two exoplanets. It is barium. According to the European Southern Observatory (ESO), the discovery raises questions about the nature of the planets’ atmosphere.
The two celestial bodies with the names WASP-76 b and WASP-121 b are called gas giants of similar size to Jupiter, and they orbit their suns relatively closely, and therefore are extremely hot with surface temperatures in excess of 1,000 degrees Celsius. On the other hand, barium is two and a half times heavier than iron, according to ESO. It is therefore unusual to find it in the upper layers of the atmosphere.
Accordingly, due to the high gravitational pull of massive massive planets, the heavy element is already expected to rapidly fall to the lower layers. Researcher Olivier Demangon, who was involved in the research, said the natural processes that prevent barium from doing this are unclear. ESOBroadcast: “At the moment, the mechanisms are not yet clear.”
More confusing than expected
At the moment, astronomers, according to their own statements, can only conclude that the atmosphere of exoplanets looks much more mysterious than previously assumed. In the case of WASP-76 b, for example, due to its harsh conditions, it is already assumed that it will rain iron there.
The discovery of barium was, according to ESO, an accidental discovery during analysis by an international team known as very large telescope European Southern Observatory in the Atacama Desert in Chile. Experts analyzed starlight “filtered” through the atmospheres of two exoplanets. From this, conclusions can be drawn about their compositions.
to her consequences It has now been published in the Journal of Astronomy and Astrophysics. ESO, in turn, is a European joint venture of 16 European countries, which jointly finance and operate the Southern Observatory, which is equipped with the latest powerful telescopes.
“Social media evangelist. Baconaholic. Devoted reader. Twitter scholar. Avid coffee trailblazer.”