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For the first time, astronomers have detected iron and titanium vapors in a planet's sky—the metals glowing hot like the filaments in a light bulb in the searing atmosphere. The strategy used to make this discovery might one day hunt for signs of life on alien worlds, researchers added.
Scientists investigated the exoplanet KELT-9b, the hottest alien world discovered yet, with daytime temperatures reaching more than 4,300 degrees C, hotter than many stars. This planet is located about 650 light years from Earth in the constellation Cygnus the Swan. It circles the young blue star KELT-9, which is nearly twice as hot as our sun. KELT-9b, which is about 2.8 times Jupiter's mass, orbits its star roughly 10 times closer than Mercury does the sun.
Belongs - Class - Worlds - Jupiters - Lines
KELT-9b belongs to a class of worlds known as ultra-hot Jupiters that blur the lines between stars and gas giants. The scorching heat of these exoplanets gives researchers an exceptional opportunity to analyze the ingredients of their atmospheres. When chemicals are heated, they each can give off a unique pattern or spectrum of light that can help identify them like fingerprints. The fact that such Jupiter-like worlds are ultra-hot means that atoms or molecules that might not ordinarily reach high enough temperatures in regular planets to give off light, such as iron, might emit detectable spectra.
Now exoplanet astronomer Jens Hoeijmakers at the Universities of Geneva and Bern in Switzerland and his colleagues have detected light from iron and titanium from KELT-9b. Using Italy's Galileo National Telescope on the Canary Island of La Palma on the night of July 31, 2017, they detected the spectra of neutrally charged iron atoms and positively charged iron and titanium ions. Their results were published this week in Nature.
Time - Iron - Titanium
"It is the first time that iron and titanium have been robustly detected in...
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