Hubble studies extreme weather on superhot Jupiters

(ORDO NEWS) — Astronomers have unveiled the results of a new study of a bloated planet the size of Jupiter, on the surface of which temperatures reach 1700 degrees Celsius.

At this temperature, many metals melt, including titanium. This is the hottest planetary atmosphere observed by astronomers to date.

In two new papers, teams of astronomers working with the Hubble Space Telescope report unusual weather patterns on these hot planets.

On one planet, it rains molten rocks, and on another, the upper atmosphere gets hotter than the lower layers as it gets “sunburned” by the ultraviolet radiation emitted by its parent star.

The first of these papers, led by David Sing of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, USA, describes Hubble observations of the planet WASP-178b, located at a distance of about 1300 light-years from us.

On the day side of the planet, there are no clouds in the atmosphere, and its main component is gaseous silicon monoxide.

Since one side of the planet is constantly facing the star, the hot atmosphere is constantly moving to the night side at speeds in excess of 3200 kilometers per hour.

On the nightside, silicon monoxide cools down to temperatures low enough to condense into rocks that fall as rain from the clouds, yet even at dawn and dusk the planet remains hot enough for the rocks to evaporate.

Another work by a team led by Guangwei Fu of the University of Maryland, USA, reports on the superhot Jupiter KELT-20b, located at a distance of about 400 light-years from us.

On this planet, the flow of ultraviolet radiation from the parent star forms a thermal layer in the atmosphere, similar to the Earth’s stratosphere.

In comparison, on Earth, ozone in the atmosphere absorbs ultraviolet radiation, which causes the temperature to rise between 11 and 50 kilometers above the planet’s surface. On the planet KELT-20b, this ultraviolet radiation from the star heats the metals in the atmosphere, resulting in a temperature inversion.


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