This article originally appeared on The Conversation. The publication contributed this article to Space.com’s expert voice: OpEd & Insights.
Ian Whittaker, Senior Lecturer in Physics, Nottingham Trent University More extreme weather.
Since the discovery of the first exoplanet in 1992, more than 4,000 planets have been discovered orbiting stars other than ourselves.
Ongoing research on exoplanets includes attempts to determine the composition of their atmospheres, especially to answer the question of whether life can exist there. However, in the process of searching for life, astronomers have discovered a variety of potential worlds.
The following are four examples of abnormal weather on other celestial bodies, demonstrating the diversity of exoplanet atmospheres.
1. Iron shower on WASP76b
WASP76 is a huge hot exoplanet discovered in 2013. The surface of this huge planet, roughly twice that of Jupiter, is roughly 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit (2,200 degrees Celsius). This means that many substances that are solid on earth melt and evaporate in WASP76b.
As described in a particularly famous study in 2020, these materials include iron. During the day of the planet, this iron turns into gas when it faces its star. It rises in the atmosphere and flows to the night side.
When this gaseous iron reaches the colder side of the planet at night, the iron will condense back into liquid and fall to the surface. This is currently the only example of a planet we have that has a specific temperature change enough to make it really rain at night.
This image shows the night view of the exoplanet WASP76b. The temperature of this super-hot giant exoplanet rises above 4,350 degrees Fahrenheit (2,400 degrees Celsius) during the day, enough to evaporate metal. Strong winds bring iron vapor to colder nights, where it condenses into iron droplets. On the left side of the image, we can see the evening edge of the exoplanet, which passes from day to night.
This image shows the night view of the exoplanet WASP76b. This super-hot giant exoplanet is one day old and the temperature exceeds 4,350 degrees Fahrenheit (2,400 degrees Celsius), enough to evaporate the metal. The strong wind carries the iron vapor to the colder side of the night, where it condenses into iron droplets. On the left side of the image, we see the evening boundary of the exoplanet, which passes from day to night. (Image source: ESO / M. Kornmesser)
2. The Methane Lake on Titan
Titan is not a planet, but the largest moon of Saturn. It is particularly interesting because it has a rich atmosphere, which is rare for satellites orbiting planets.
There is liquid flowing on the surface of the moon, like a river on earth. Unlike the earth, this liquid is not water, but a mixture of different hydrocarbons. On earth, we will use these chemicals (ethane and methane) as fuel, but on Titan, it is cold enough that they remain liquid and form lakes.
Ice volcanoes are believed to occasionally release these hydrocarbons into the atmosphere as gases, forming clouds, and then condensing to form rain. This precipitation is different from the standard rainfall that we might encounter on Earth: it only rains about 0.1% of the time, due to the reduction of gravity and increased resistance. There are 4,444 methane lakes on Titan.
methane lakes on the Titan. (Image source: NASA / JPLCaltech)
3. Wind on Mars
The meteorological system on Mars is completely different from that on Earth, mainly because of how dry the planet is and how thin the atmosphere is. If there is no obvious magnetic field, the atmosphere of Mars is open to the solar magnetic field and the solar magnetic field will strip the upper atmosphere. This leaves a fine atmosphere, composed mainly of carbon dioxide.
Recently, the first flight to Mars powered by NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter was amazing, not only because of the exploration factor, but also because the rotor blades provide very little lift in the thin atmosphere, about 2% of the surface. from the earth. In sharp contrast to this thin atmosphere is a set of large blades that rotate at about 2,500 revolutions per minute, roughly equivalent to the rotor speed of a drone, but much faster than a passenger helicopter.
Although the atmosphere of Mars is faint, it is certainly not peaceful. An average wind speed of 30 km/h (20 mph) is sufficient to remove material from the surface, and early observations of the Viking lander have measured wind speeds of up to 110 km/h (70 mph).
When exploring this planet, the prospect of high-speed dust storms seems to be a major issue, but the atmosphere is thin, so the pressure is very small. For example, the rocket explosion scene in the movie “The Martian” would not happen. Mars is also known for large-scale dust storms, which obscure the view of the earth’s surface and can last for several weeks.
Mars before (left) and during the dust storm (right).
Mars before (left) and during the dust storm (right). (Image source: NASA / JPLCaltech / MSSS, CC BY)
4. Lightning on Jupiter
Jupiter elves
What will the elves in Jupiter’s atmosphere look like? (Image source: NASA / JPLCaltech / SwRI)
In 1979, Voyager 1 flew over Jupiter and saw lightning. Then, in 2016, the Juno mission conducted an in-depth observation of the thunderstorm on Jupiter.
On Earth, most rays are concentrated near the equator. But on Jupiter, the stability of the atmosphere means that most of the convection and turbulence occurs near the polar regions, which is where lightning mostly occurs. Unlike the lightning method, where supercooled water droplets collide with ice on Earth, on Jupiter, the charge

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