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Discovered a planet where it rains molten iron, but only at night
It's raining molten iron, on Wasp-76b, a planet, a few steps from the astronomical to us, and that, apparently, has a weather not really suitable for tourist trips, interstellar. Two faces like the Moon, always facing its star, the other always in shadow. A temperature range of thousands of degrees and, as a result, currents that sweep around the planet. A peculiarity, similar to that of other 'jovian hot like him: the temperature never goes below 1,500 degrees. For the first time is investigated, so as to change the time from day to night in an exoplanet.

The astrophysicists, a large international team were able to rebuild, using large Vlt (Very large telescope) of Eso, in Chile, the composition of the atmosphere of this “Jupiter” is very exotic. And its features suggest that, in the hemisphere facing its star, face so hot that even the iron is in the form of gas. But when these clouds cross the line of the evening, in the night side condense to become heavy metal. Heavy metal To understand what's going on in Wasp-76b, we must think to the Moon turns always the same face to the Earth. So even that planet not so far, about 390 light-years in the constellation of the Fish, to rotate on itself takes the same time to orbit around the star: less than two earth days, it is very fast, and then even close to it. Easy to imagine that face hot, on the face constantly illuminated, which collects a radiation thousands of times higher than that which the Earth receives from the Sun. But difficult to imagine how much: more than 2,400 degrees. Enough, say the scientists, to evaporate the metals, which, in addition to separate the molecules. So, how on earth generate clouds of water vapor, on Wasp-76b, the clouds were made of iron.

Using the spectrograph Espresso for the Vlt, the scientists have analysed the composition of the gas at the borders of the light, to the two opposite sides of the planet. In what they considered as “the edge of night”, they measured a strong presence of iron in the clouds. The signature of this missing element, instead, to the border in the morning. “The reason is that on the night side of the planet raining iron,” emphasized David Ehrenreich , a professor at the University of Geneva and first author of the study, published today in the journal Nature. Ehrenreich led the international team which is made up of about thirty researchers at the national Institute of astrophysics (Inaf) and several Italian universities. In short, the 2,400 to 1,500 Celsius the iron condenses and falls. The talents of Espresso Espresso was developed to search for Earth-like planets around stars similar to the Sun. But it is now shown (they were the first scientific observations) a great tool to capture the light that filters through the atmosphere of a gas giant and brings us the “signature”, the spectrum, of the elements that compose it. In short, a debut not so bad. The spectrograph was built by a scientific consortium of which it is a part of Italy together with Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, the same European southern Observatory. “Despite being in the field for several years, they are surprised and amazed by the rapidity of the progress of the accuracy of the instruments - it reflects Stephen Christian, researcher at the Inaf Trieste and co-principal investigator of Espresso, one of the authors of the study, Espresso is designed to find planets like the Earth spinning at a star like the Sun, by observing the effects of a displacement of the speed levels of the tiny, 10 cm per second. And thanks to its extreme precision, to measure whether the fundamental constants of physics are the same even billions of years away. So for the first time we were able to find a difference in the chemistry of the atmosphere between night and day on a planet outside our solar System”. Clues to study the atmosphere of these distant worlds and extremes.

The real news, to be honest, is this. Because if on Wasp-76b it rains iron, it is difficult to even imagine where it could “fall”, since it is a gas giant and probably a solid core on which to build a roof, even has it.

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