The temperature around the exoplanet WASP-121b is so hot that it leaks heavy metal, making this the first time that scientists have heard of such a phenomenon. The upper atmosphere is 10 times hotter than any of others known to date. This planet comes under the category of Hot Jupiters as they are physically similar to Jupiter with shorter orbital periods. Due to high surface temperature, these are nicked named “hot Jupiters”.
The planet’s atmosphere reaches a temperature of 4600 degrees Fahrenheit; this happens due to the large heat emitted in the form of ultra-violet light from the host star. “The easiest way to understand it’s like the ocean tides on Earth from Moon” David Sing, an astronomer at the Johns Hopkins University. “In our case gravity of the moon pulls oceans, so the ocean closest to the moon bulges out toward the moon which is high tide. Similarly, the gravity is weakest on the opposite side of the Earth from the moon, so the ocean isn’t pulled that strongly so creates a bulge on the opposite side of the Earth. So the Earth-ocean system becomes distorted and a little bit football-shaped”, he said
A much similar phenomenon has happened on WASP-121b but at a wider scale. These heavy metal drift from lower atmosphere to the upper atmosphere and turns into a gaseous form, which later heats the atmosphere. These heavy metals use the help of hydrogen and helium gas to reach space.
The upcoming telescopes such as James Webb Space Telescope will help the scientist to have a better understanding of these phenomena and about hot Jupiters. Our scientist is looking to find more heavy metals and iron in the atmosphere of these exoplanets. As of now, the fate of this planet is fixed as in later stages thWASP-121 will be torn apart by its host star.