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I am now in the third week of my annual February birthday fund-raising drive. The first two weeks were good, but not record-setting.

 

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Astronomers detect vaporized elements in atmosphere of hot Jupiter-sized exoplanet

Using the Gemini telescope in Hawaii, astronomers have detected several elements in atmosphere of hot Jupiter-sized exoplanet, dubbed WASP-76b, that would normally be found in rocks, but here are vaporized because the exoplanet orbits so close to its star.

In 2020 and 2021, using Gemini North’s MAROON-X (a new instrument specially designed to detect and study exoplanets), Pelletier and his team observed the planet as it passed in front of its host star on three separate occasions. These new observations uncovered a number of rock-forming elements in the atmosphere of WASP-76b, including sodium, potassium, lithium, nickel, manganese, chromium, magnesium, vanadium, barium, calcium, and, as previously detected, iron.

Due to the extreme temperatures of WASP-76b’s atmosphere, the elements detected by the researchers, which would normally form rocks here on Earth, are instead vaporized and thus present in the atmosphere in their gaseous forms. While these elements contribute to the composition of gas giants in our Solar System, those planets are too cold for the elements to vaporize into the atmosphere making them virtually undetectable.

The data not only suggests such elements exist in the solar system’s gas giants, but that such elements are common in solar systems elsewhere. That possibility increases the chances of other planets like Earth, capable of sustaining life as we know it, in addition to sustaining life as we don’t know it.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

 
The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit. If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.


The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.
 

"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News

2 comments

  • David Ross

    Hot Jupiters are so hot they have trouble holding onto elements as are NOT heavy and/or metallic. Wasn’t sodium found in HD 209458b? That was some time ago.

  • Star Bird

    Must be what’s left of Preplanus from Lost in Space their first planet they landed on

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