Astronomers discover “heavy metal” planet shaped like a football located 900 light-years from Earth. The planet’s upper atmosphere reaches a blazing 4,600 Farenheight which is 10 times hotter than any other planets. Observations by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope show heavy metals streaming outside our solar system known as WASP-121b. According to scientists, the high temperature of the atmosphere causes these heavy metals to escape as gases. The planet is classified as “hot-Jupiters” – gas colossal exoplanets that rotate excessively close to their host star. Hot Jupiter-sized planets are usually cold enough to curtail heavy elements like magnesium and iron into clouds. But that’s not the case with WASP-121b, which is revolving so close to its star that its upper atmosphere reaches a 4,600 degrees Fahrenheit.

David Sing, lead author of the study from Hopkins University says, “Heavy metals have been seen in other hot Jupiters before, but only in the lower atmosphere, so you don’t know if they are escaping or not.” The researchers used the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph to look at the ultraviolet light of magnesium and iron attached to the starlight passing through WASP-121b’s atmosphere. This phenomenon occurs while the exoplanet passes in front of or travels to the face of its home star. The WASP-121b study is part of a Hubble’s program that focuses on a comparative view of the exoplanets’ atmosphere. The observations of WASP-121b contribute to the expanding story of how the planets’ primordial atmospheres lose. The formation of planets occurs once they gather an atmosphere with gas. The atmospheres basically consist of elements that can be found in the universe such as hydrogen and helium. The atmosphere vanishes once a planet moves closer to its star. Sing added, “But in the case of WASP-121b, the hydrogen and helium gas is outflowing, almost like a river, and is dragging these metals with them. It’s a very efficient mechanism for mass loss.”