Tag Archive : Iron Rain

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The planet where it rains iron

A team of researchers at the University of Geneva discovered a planet 640 light-years from Earth. They used the European Southern Observatory’s large telescope in northern Chile to observe this. The planets hot side which faces its star can be more than 2400C.

Dr David Ehrenreich, a professor at the University of Geneva in Switzerland led the research. The study will be published in the journal Nature. They have named the exoplanet as WASP-76B.

The planet is located at the constellation of Pisces which is 640 light-years away. What’s special about this planet is, that it rains iron on this planet.

“One could say that this planet gets rainy in the evening, except it rains iron,” says David Ehrenreich

The reason for this phenomenon is because the planet always shows only one side to its parent star. The other side remains in total darkness. This is same as the Moon in its orbit around the Earth. This is called Tidal Locking. it takes as long to rotate around its axis as it does to go around the star.

Its day side receives a thousand times more radiation from the parent star than the Earth does from the Sun. So the temperature is capable of separating molecules into atoms. Metals such as iron evaporate into the atmosphere. The extreme difference in the temperatures between the dayside and the night side creates vigorous winds. These winds bring iron vapour from the hot dayside to the cool night side. The temperature difference is said to be about 1500 C.