We often take for granted how amazing planet Earth is. To have an atmosphere that allows us to breathe, to have water that allows us to sustain life, to have temperatures that don’t burn us up in a crisp is incredible. While there are some parts of Earth that are pretty difficult to live in, the majority of the planet is incredibly suitable to human life and well, is the reason that we managed to evolve into lifeforms here. We have looked at the possibility of life on other planets in our solar system and mostly ruled them out for a variety of reasons. Recently scientists discovered a planet in our galaxy that is so inhospitable to life it looks like something from a nightmare.
The name of the planet already starts to strike a little fear in your belly. The planet is called WASP-76b after the telescope that discovered it but reminds us much more of the angry bees that appear to enjoy making humans suffer.
WASP76b is a planet that after its discovery scientists said they didn’t think such an extreme and exotic world could exist, and yet it does. The planet is 22 times the size of Earth and twice the size of Jupiter (the biggest planet of our solar system) yet it actually has a lower mass than Jupiter. This is because of its proximity to a star. WASP76b revolves around a star much as Earth does. Yet while it takes Earth 365 days to orbit the sun it only takes WASP76b 1.8 Earth days. The star is twice the size of our sun and the distance between it and WASP76b is only three times the radius of the star itself, so the star is massive and very close.
Because of the closeness to the star, it is unable to spin on its axis as Earth does. This means that one side of the planet is always facing the star and one side is always facing away, resulting in two harsh environments. On what we will call the ‘dayside’ the temperature can be as high as 2,400 degrees celsius and on the nightside, it can still reach 1,500 degrees celsius.
The elements at play on this planet are also hard to believe. Scientists have discovered iron vapor on one part of the planet but found it is not present on the other. This leads them to believe that it is being condensed into a molten rain. That’s right it literally rains down iron on this planet. If you have ever been unfortunate to be hit by hail while outside keep in mind that is just frozen water, this is iron!
The other thing worth noting is what moves that iron, winds of 18,000 km/h. This is a little too strong to fly your kite or actually survive. Those who discovered the planet say that it is the most extreme climate we could ever imagine. The harsh conditions of this planet, of course, mean that there is no possibility of life. If there is something that could survive on that planet then we certainly don’t want to meet it anyway.
This terrible planet make you realize how lucky we are to call Earth home. While we will likely ruin this country through the endless abuse we give it, it was good for us for a long time. It is just a pity that we can’t realize the damage that we each are doing individually and come together as a collective and start to fix some of the terrible problems that we have caused. While some thought COVID.19 may be a time for people to pause and look at the world around them, it turned out it was just a time to pause and watch a little more Netflix.