Scientists have been looking for a planet that could sustain life for decades, and in their research they have discovered several interesting and different-looking planets. However, WASP-18b, also known as the planet of death, is an exoplanet they found to be very unusual. The planet looks like a normal uninhabitable planet, although what amazed the scientists is that its peculiar upper atmosphere is composed almost entirely of carbon monoxide.
Because the stratosphere of WASP-18b consists mainly of carbon monoxide, and the planet has no water at all, the scientists who discovered the planet think that it resembles other hot Jupiters but that perhaps it was formed in a different way, the independent reports.
"The composition of WASP-18b defies all expectations," said Kyle Sheppard of Goddard Space Flight Center NASA, lead author of the study published in the Astrophysical Journal letters, in a statement. "We do not know of any other extrasolar planet where carbon monoxide completely dominates the upper atmosphere."
The news of the discovery of WASP-18b encouraged some to give it the nickname of Planet of Death. However, it is important to know that this exoplanet is no more brutal than any of its hot Jupiter brothers, especially because we already have planets like this in our Solar System, Jupiter and Saturn, which effortlessly made Cbadini submerge in its atmosphere.
What makes the planet of death brutal is that its stratospheric composition is mainly carbon monoxide. But, the other hot Jupiters located in different solar systems have atmospheres that consist of titanium oxide and vanadium oxide. More importantly, the team behind the investigation found indications that the chemicals absorb sunlight in the atmosphere of WASP-18b, which is the same as the chemicals found in other hot Jupiters. However, when they badyzed the light they saw from the planet, they concluded that it does not resemble any other planet they have investigated before.
According to the models that ran, the atmosphere of the exoplanet needed to have only carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide, and nothing else. The scientists compared their findings with Venus, which consists of carbon dioxide, and found that there should be enough oxygen in the atmosphere to form water in WASP-18b, which they could not find. In addition, they have never seen the superior absorbent atmosphere of the sun that was built only with carbon monoxide.
"This rare combination of factors opens a new window in our understanding of physicochemical processes in exoplanetary atmospheres," co-author of the article. Said Nikku Madhusudhan, an astronomer at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, in a press release.