The ‘ultra-hot’ exoplanet has a layered atmosphere like Earth’s, says research

An extremely ‘ultra-warm’ Jupiter-like exoplanet, where the temperature reaches 5,760 ° F (3,200 ° C), has a layered atmosphere that is surprisingly similar to Earth’s, a study shows.

Experts in Sweden and Switzerland have discovered more about the ‘complex and exotic atmosphere’ of the exoplanet WASP-189b using high-resolution spectroscopy.

The gas giant, located 322 light-years from Earth, was discovered in orbit around its bright host star HD 133112 by the Wide Angle Search for Planets project (WASP) in 2018.

Now experts are revealing that the atmosphere of WASP-189b contains ‘an exotic cocktail’ of titanium oxide, iron, titanium, chromium, vanadium, magnesium and manganese.

WASP-189b has previously been described as one of the ‘most extreme planets in the universe’, as it has surface temperatures that are warm enough to evaporate iron.

WASP-189b is more than one and a half times as large as Jupiter and is 20 times closer to its host star than Earth is to our Sun.

Because the planet is so close to its host star, a year lasts only 2.7 days.

An extremely 'ultra-warm' Jupiter-like exoplanet, where the temperature reaches 5,760 ° F (3,200 ° C), has a layered atmosphere that surprisingly resembles Earth's, a study reveals

An extremely ‘ultra-warm’ Jupiter-like exoplanet, where the temperature reaches 5,760 ° F (3,200 ° C), has a layered atmosphere that surprisingly resembles Earth’s, a study reveals

This is an artist's impression of WASP-189b, which revolves around its extremely hot 'blue' host star.  The planet orbits the star every three days and has a permanent day and night side

This is an artist’s impression of WASP-189b, which revolves around its extremely hot ‘blue’ host star. The planet orbits the star every three days and has a permanent day and night side

ONE OF THE MOST EXTREME PLANETS IN THE UNIVERSE: GET TO KNOW WASP-189b

Discovered in: 2018

Turnover period: 2,724 days

Radius: 1,619 Jupiter radius (RJ)

Lot: 1.99 Jupiter Mass (MJ)

Slope: 84.03 degrees

Surface temperature: 5,760 ° F

Despite its far-reaching characteristics, scientists compare the atmosphere of WASP-189b with that of Earth – at least in terms of its atmospheric layer.

The Earth’s atmosphere is not a uniform shell, but consists of different layers, each with characteristic properties.

The Earth’s troposphere – the lowest layer that stretches from the sea surface beyond the highest mountain peaks – contains most of the water vapor and is therefore the layer in which most weather phenomena occur.

The layer above it – the stratosphere – is what contains the famous ozone layer that shields us from the Sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation.

In their new study, published in Nature Astronomy, the researchers show for the first time that the atmosphere in WASP-189b may have uniform layers – albeit with very different chemical properties.

The team used the HARPS spectrograph at the La Silla Observatory in Chile to analyze the atmosphere of WASP-189b in great detail.

“We measured the light that comes from the planet’s host star and passes through the planet’s atmosphere,” said study author Dr. Bibiana Prinoth at Lund University.

‘The gases in its atmosphere absorb some of the starlight, just as ozone absorbs some of the sunlight in the Earth’s atmosphere, leaving their characteristic “fingerprints”.

‘Using HARPS, we were able to identify the corresponding substances.’

The European Space Agency (ESA) shows an artist's impression of WASP-189b, an exoplanet so close to its host star - 20 times closer than Earth is to the Sun - that it orbits in less than three days.  To the right, our Sun, Earth, and Jupiter are depicted for comparison

The European Space Agency (ESA) shows an artist’s impression of WASP-189b, an exoplanet so close to its host star – 20 times closer than Earth is to the Sun – that it orbits in less than three days. To the right, our Sun, Earth, and Jupiter are depicted for comparison

The team used the HARPS spectrograph at the La Silla Observatory in Chile to analyze the atmosphere of WASP-189b in detail

The team used the HARPS spectrograph at the La Silla Observatory in Chile to analyze the atmosphere of WASP-189b in detail

HOW MANY EXOPLANETS ARE THERE?

An exoplanet is any planet outside our solar system. Most orbit other stars, but free-floating exoplanets, called rogue planets, orbit the galactic center and are unbound to any star.

About 4,374 exoplanets have been confirmed in 3,234 systems since the first discoveries of exoplanets in the early 1990s.

The majority of these exoplanets are gaseous, like Jupiter or Neptune, rather than terrestrial, according to NASA’s online database.

The nearest exoplanet is called Proxima Centauri b, about 4.2 light-years away from our Sun.

However, it is difficult to know what exoplanets are exactly made of, or whether anyone resembles Earth.

The team reports on the ‘unambiguous detection’ of titanium oxide in the planet using high-resolution transmission spectroscopy, which measures the decrease in light as the planet passes in front of its host star to identify the composition.

“We used a high-resolution spectrograph to collect starlight from the host star at a time when the light was also passing through the exoplanet’s gas envelope,” said Dr. Prinoth.

“After extracting the relevant parts of the spectrum, we were able to connect at least nine variants of known substances to the atmosphere of WASP-189b.”

While titanium oxide is very scarce on Earth, it absorbs shortwave radiation, such as ultraviolet radiation.

“Its detection could therefore indicate a layer in the atmosphere of WASP-189b that interacts with stellar radiation in the same way as the ozone layer on Earth,” said study co-author Kevin Heng, professor of astrophysics at the University of Bern.

Until now, titanium oxide could not be detected with certainty in the atmosphere by an ultra-hot gas giant like WASP-189b, they report.

WASP-189b is perhaps the most extreme of the approximately 4,300 exoplanets that have been confirmed to date.

Ever since it was observed in 2020 by the satellite CHEOPS, it has been a topic of interest to astronomers.

It is ‘very exotic’ as it has a permanent day side that is always exposed to the light of its ‘very clear’ host star.

Its climate is completely different from the gas giants Jupiter and Saturn in our solar system, which have different sides facing the Sun as they rotate.

‘Based on the observations using CHEOPS, we estimate the temperature on WASP-189b to be 3,200 degrees Celsius [5792 F], ‘said Monika Lendl, at the University of Geneva, back in 2020.

By comparison, Jupiter has an average temperature of -234 degrees Fahrenheit.

‘Planets like WASP-189b are called “ultra-hot Jupiters”. Iron melts at such a high temperature and even becomes gaseous.

‘This object is one of the most extreme planets we know so far.

So far, astronomers have discovered more than 4,000 exoplanets confirmed to orbit other stars in our galaxy.

The majority of these exoplanets are gaseous, like Jupiter or Neptune, rather than terrestrial, according to NASA’s online database.

EXOPLANETS HAVE ‘EXOTIC’ MOUNTAINS THAT CANNOT BE FOUND IN OUR SOLAR SYSTEM

Rocky planets outside our solar system, known as exoplanets, are composed of ‘exotic’ rock types that do not even exist in our planetary system, a study from 2021 shows.

Scientists have used telescopic data to analyze white dwarfs – former stars that were once given life just like our sun – in an attempt to discover secrets about their former surrounding planets.

About 98 percent of all stars in the universe will eventually end up as white dwarfs, including our own sun.

Experts found that some exoplanets have rock types that do not exist or just can not be found on planets in our solar system.

These rocks are so ‘strange’ that the authors have had to create new names for them – including ‘quartz pyroxenites’ and ‘periclase dunites’.

About 4,374 exoplanets have been confirmed in 3,234 systems since the first discoveries of exoplanets in the early 1990s.

The majority of these exoplanets are gaseous, like Jupiter or Neptune, rather than terrestrial, according to NASA’s online database.

Read more: Rocky exoplanets are even stranger than we thought, study suggests

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