Iron Rain on WASP-76b Makes for a Strange Exoplanet - The Cosmic Companion 9 October 2021

Exploring iron rain on the exoplanet WASP-76b, a bizarre world 640 light years from Earth.

Iron rain on WASP-76b is weird, and new studies show this massive, incendiary world is even weirder than we thought.

WASP-76b is a massive, exceptionally hot exoplanet, and everything we learn about it makes it seem even stranger. Image credit: The Cosmic Companion/Created in Universe Sandbox

Somewhere around 640 light years from Earth, a massive world 90 percent as large as Jupiter races around its parent star, an astronomical hairsbreadth from the stellar furnace.

Discovered in 2016, WASP-76b races around its F-class star once every 43 hours. These stars are yellow-white, and their metal-rich surface glows at temperatures from 5,700 — 7,000 Celsius (10,300–12,600 F).

Vast quantities of heat from the star (WASP-76) pummel the planet, exciting that world to extreme temperatures. This inferno vaporizes iron on the starlit-side of the world, lifting mammoth quantities of the metal into the atmosphere. As the gas circulates around the Jovian-class planet, entering the night side of the world, the element condenses, falling as iron rain on WASP-76b.

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