Astronomers discover heaviest exoplanet element yet on alien world so hot it rains iron

Very interesting. Barium is s-process element said to form in certain stars, so very interesting observation.

Ref paper - Detection of barium in the atmospheres of the ultra-hot gas giants WASP-76b and WASP-121b⋆,, 13-Oct-2022.

"Another surprising finding is the detection of Ba+ in both planets. This is the heaviest detected element in exoplanetary atmospheres to date. The datasets of WASP-76b and WASP-121b represent some of the highest currently available S/N datasets. That Ba+ is detected in both of the studied planets may indicate that this heavy species can be common in the atmospheres of ultra-hot Jupiters. The CCF plots, tomography plots, and Kp-plots are shown in Figs. 1 and 2 for the two planets. Close to the expected planet velocity lies a clear absorption signal that follows the planetary Kp in all the exposures. Faint absorption signals directly on the planetary spectrum at the position of the strongest lines of the Ba+ CCF mask are likewise visible (Appendix I). We also note the ionization trend of these alkaline earth metals (Ca+, Sr+, and Ba+). The presence of these heavy ionized species at high altitudes in the atmospheres of ultra-hot Jupiters may be evidence of unexpected atmospheric dynamics. It is beyond the scope of this paper to describe the mechanisms that would explain the presence of these species in the upper layers of the atmosphere. However, we hope that we encourage further atmospheric modeling with this discovery."

Latest posts