Inferno Planet Wasp-76bADDPMP157
Wasp-76b is what astronomers call an exoplanet, one that orbits a star outside our solar system. Scientists have discovered that the local weather conditions include 2,400C temperatures, winds in excess of 10,000mph and a steady pelting of iron rain.
The observations of the distant planet’s unusually hostile climate are the first results from a new instrument on the Very Large Telescope in Chile, which astronomers say will transform our view of worlds far from beyond our own solar system.
Wasp-76b, which is 640 light years away in the constellation of Pisces, is an ultra-hot gas giant. It orbits its star at about 3% of the distance between the Earth and the Sun, resulting in scorching surface temperatures and the weird phenomenon of molten iron falling from the sky.
“It’s a kind of world we can’t imagine easily because we don’t have anything like that in our solar system,” said Christophe Lovis, an exoplanet researcher at the University of Geneva and co-author of the paper.
Because the planet is so close in, it is “tidally locked” (like the Moon’s orbit about Earth) and only only ever shows one face, its day side, to its parent star, while its cooler night side remains in perpetual darkness.