Some serious heat is needed to turn titanium into vapor. Well, to be precise temperatures in excess of 3,200 °C (5,800 °CF). It seems that KELT-9b, which was crowned as the exoplanet Least Likely To Host Life last year, might just do the job. It’s surface temperature make it hotter than many stars. It is hot enough to vaporize many heavy metals. Researchers have detected iron and titanium vapor in its atmosphere.
KELT-9b is also known as an “ultra-hot Jupiter” – a class that was invented specially for this planet. The surface temperatures of this planet goes up to 4,327° C (7,820° F).
While this won’t be interesting to scientists and people wanting to know about life on another planet, the KELT-9b still has can teach us a lot. There is no other exoplanet which has an atmosphere like this. Swiss researchers ran simulations to what can be expected out of the atmosphere of the KELT-9b. It predicted that iron vapor would be detectable.
Kevin Heng, an author of the study said that the results that came out of the simulations show that most of the molecules found in the planet’s atmosphere should be in atomic form. This is because the bonds that hold them together are broken by collisions between particles that happen at very high temperatures.
It also has to be checked how accurate these predictions of the study are. For this, the researchers used the HARPS-North spectrograph on the Galileo National Telescope to have a look at the spectrum of the planet as it passes in front of its host star. The researcher hoped that, the spectrum returned clear signature of iron vapor. But iron was not the only heavy metal found in the atmosphere. A titanium vapor signature was also found.
Jens Hoeijmakers, the lead author of the study said that with the theoretical predictions in hand, it was like following a treasure map . They found even more interesting information when they dig deeper into the data.
The research throws some more light on these unfortunate exoplanets. They could potentially completely evaporate under these severely extreme conditions. KELT-9b is already showing signs of evaporation. It is leaving a comet-like tail in its wake. The scientists still believe that the planet should be able to avoid getting completely evaporated with its massive size which is three times that of the jupiter.
David Ehrenreich, the principal investigator of the study is of the opinion that this planet is like a unique laboratory which helps them to analyze how atmospheres can evolve under extreme stellar radiation.