Superhot exoplanet may have metal clouds and raining liquid gems, study says

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A superhot exoplanet could have metal clouds and rain made of liquid gems, according to a new study.

Researchers have revealed that a huge gas giant that is orbiting a star that is around 855 light-years from Earth, is boasting several strange qualities.

The research, published in the journal of Nature Astronomy, demonstrates how hot water atmospherically cycles between the two sides of the planet named WASP-121b.

WASP-121b has been compared to Jupiter because of its high temperatures but it has a greater mass and diameter than the biggest planet in our solar system.

Scientists say it has a glowing water vapour atmosphere and is being warped into the shape of a football because of the extreme gravitational force of the star it orbits, reports CNN.

According to the study, the planet completes one orbit every 30 hours, which means that one side of it, the dayside, will always be facing the star.

Study coauthor Tansu Daylan commented: "Hot Jupiters are famous for having very bright day sides, but the night side is a different beast.

"WASP-121b's night side is about 10 times fainter than its dayside."

The planet's extreme water cycle sees water atoms teared apart by the piping hot temperatures on its day side. The atoms are moved over to the nightside by winds with speeds of over 11,000 miles per hour before it goes back to the dayside.

"These winds are much faster than our jet stream, and can probably move clouds across the entire planet in about 20 hours," Daylan said.

According to researchers, the contrast between the temperatures on each side of the planet means that the night side is cool enough to produce metal clouds formed from iron and corundum.

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Similar to the water vapour that is moved around on the planet, the metal clouds could get pushed over to the day side where the metals vaporise into gases.

However, before the clouds But before the clouds depart from the nightside, there is a possibility that they release rain formed out of liquid gems.

lead study author Thomas Mikal-Evans said: "With this observation, we're really getting a global view of an exoplanet's meteorology.

"Despite the discovery of thousands of exoplanets, we've only been able to study the atmospheres of a small fraction due to the challenging nature of the observations.

"We're now moving beyond taking isolated snapshots of specific regions of exoplanet atmospheres, to study them as the 3D systems they truly are."

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