Glass rains from the skies on this planet. But, it hides a more bizarre secret

HD 189733 b, a "hot Jupiter" located 64 light-years from Earth, has long fascinated astronomers due to its extreme conditions.
Glass rains from the skies on this planet. But, it hides a more bizarre secret
Photo: John Hopkins

Scientists at Johns Hopkins University have discovered a bizzare feature on a planet outside Solar System. It smells like rotten eggs.

The team detected the presence of hydrogen sulfide, the compound responsible for the smell of rotten eggs, in the atmosphere of the exoplanet known as HD 189733 b.

This finding, published in Nature, marks the first detection of this molecule outside our solar system and provides new insights into planetary formation and composition.

HD 189733 b, a "hot Jupiter" located 64 light-years from Earth, has long fascinated astronomers due to its extreme conditions.

The planet orbits its star at a distance 13 times closer than Mercury is to our Sun, completing a revolution in just two Earth days. With temperatures reaching 1,700 degrees Fahrenheit and winds of 5,000 mph that rain sideways glass, it's an inhospitable world.

Using data from the James Webb Space Telescope, the research team led by astrophysicist Guangwei Fu not only detected hydrogen sulfide but also precisely measured the planet's oxygen and carbon sources, including water, carbon dioxide, and carbon monoxide.

This comprehensive analysis offers a unique window into the chemical makeup of exoplanetary atmospheres.

The presence of sulfur is particularly significant as it plays a crucial role in forming complex molecules. Fu emphasizes that understanding sulfur's role is key to deciphering how planets are made and what they're composed of.

This discovery also has implications for our understanding of planetary formation. The team found levels of heavy metals similar to those on Jupiter, which could help explain how a planet's metallicity relates to its mass. This information is vital for testing theories about how different types of planets accumulate materials during their early formation.

While HD 189733 b is far too hot to harbour life, the ability to detect hydrogen sulfide in its atmosphere represents a significant step forward in exoplanet research.

As Fu notes, this discovery paves the way for finding similar molecules on other planets and deepening our understanding of planetary diversity and formation processes across the universe

Source: India Today

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