On the planet Wasp-76b, it rains iron. Researchers from the University of Geneva (UNIGE) and colleagues observed the planet, 650 light years from Earth, using the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope in northern Chile. On the planet’s “hot side” that faces it star, temperatures can be above 2,400°C. It’s a good thing the residents of Wasp-76b carry tungsten umbrellas. From ESO:

“One could say that this planet gets rainy in the evening, except it rains iron,” says David Ehrenreich, a professor at the University of Geneva in Switzerland. He led a study, published today in the journal Nature, of this exotic exoplanet. Known as WASP-76b, it is located some 640 light-years away in the constellation of Pisces.

This strange phenomenon happens because the ‘iron rain’ planet only ever shows one face, its day side, to its parent star, its cooler night side remaining in perpetual darkness. Like the Moon on its orbit around the Earth, WASP-76b is ‘tidally locked’: it takes as long to rotate around its axis as it does to go around the star.

On its day side, it receives thousands of times more radiation from its parent star than the Earth does from the Sun. It’s so hot that molecules separate into atoms, and metals like iron evaporate into the atmosphere. The extreme temperature difference between the day and night sides results in vigorous winds that bring the iron vapour from the ultra-hot day side to the cooler night side, where temperatures decrease to around 1500 degrees Celsius.

More: “Nightside condensation of iron in an ultrahot giant exoplanet(Nature)

illustration: ESO press release

The tiny skull, about the size of a thumbnail, trapped in amber may belong to the smallest dinosaur scientists have ever discovered. Paleontologist Lida Xing of the China University of Geosciences spotted the skull in a 99-million-year-old chunk of amber from northern Myanmar. From the New York Times: [Xing, Chinese Academy of Sciences paleontologist Jingmai […]

READ THE REST

With unfortunate frequency, elderly patients go to the hospital for a surgery or other treatment and quickly become confused, bewildered, and sometimes agitated or totally disoriented. This is called delirium and while it apparently affects between 10 and 50 percent of patients over 65, it’s only recently been studied in depth. Sharon K. Inouye, director […]

READ THE REST

For the next year or so, the NASA Deep Space Network’s 70-meter-wide (230-feet-wide) radio antenna in Canberra, Australia will have limited functionality is it undergoes critical upgrades. As a result, NASA won’t be able to transmit commands 12 billion miles into space to the intrepid Voyager 2 space probe that recently recovered quite beautifully from […]

READ THE REST

Creative writing can be a nerve-racking endeavor. It’s just you, your thoughts and that very, very blank page or word doc. You might have an idea for the story you want to tell, but what form does that story take? A novel? A short story? An article? Maybe even a blog post? Writing your story […]

READ THE REST

If you shoot videos for your business or just for fun, it’s practically inevitable that you’ll eventually start wanting to up the production values. For most vlog style videos, it’s not like you need Star Wars-level special effects or anything. But even trying to change out your background digitally with a simple green-screen effect requires […]

READ THE REST

Ever since their debut in 2016, the audio world has been chasing Apple’s AirPods. Launched with all the cache of a major Apple product along with its obvious integration with iPhones and iPads and these earbuds were essentially the tech equivalent of a rich kid born with a silver spoon in his mouth. But the […]

READ THE REST

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here