Iron Rain

They tell you that this rain can sting and look down …

When I read this astronomy report, I was thinking of this song, a favorite from the 80s. I don’t know that iron vapor or liquid droplets are red. Imagine the weather report: today’s high is 4400°. A planet like WASP-67b, that’s a continuous temperature, give or take a hundred here and there. The planet almost certainly has a rotation and orbit lock: like the moon facing the same direction to the Earth, this planet keeps the same vaporized face to its star. 

Astronomers focus on what they can detect: the atmosphere. So far, that’s only sodium and calcium. The former not likely as salt: a temperature that high would burn the salt, and break the molecular bonds of the substance. The latter not from vaporized alien bones, but from the rocks themselves. 

I might also wonder about the surface conditions. What falls as a liquid on the night side of WASP-67b has to flow somewhere. And if the sunlit surface is boiling off, maybe liquid metal rivers flow back to where they vaporized. And instead of a water cycle, we have an iron cycle.

Hawaii’s flowing lava, left, would be downright frigid in comparison. Earth’s lava is mostly melted stone, and maxes our at a little hotter than 2000°. Still, not the kind of substance you want landing on your head. Or even an umbrella.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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