This comic-book-style illustration by Swiss graphic novelist Frederik Peeters shows a closeup view of the evening border of the exoplanet WASP-76b. The ultra-hot giant exoplanet has a day side where temperatures climb above 2,400 degrees Celsius (4,000 degrees F), high enough to vaporize metals. Strong winds carry iron vapor to the cooler night side where it condenses into iron droplets. Theoretical studies show that a planet like WASP-76b, with an extremely hot day side and colder night side, would have a gigantic condensation front in the form of a cloud cascade at its evening border, the transition from day to night, as depicted here. Image via Frederik Peeters/ ESA.
By Ian Whittaker, Nottingham Trent University
When Oscar Wilde said “conversation about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative,” he was unaware of some of the more extreme weather on planets and moons other than Earth.
Since the discovery of the first exoplanet in 1992, more than 4,000 planets have been discovered orbiting stars other than our own.
The continuing research with exoplanets involves trying to identify their atmospheric composition, specifically to answer the question of whether life could exist there. In this search for life though, astronomers ...