Space

Researchers Find an Unexpected Element Near Two Strange Exoplanets

By Aazam

One planet rains liquid gems, and the other experiences a flurry of iron. And now another surprise has surfaced in their environment

On Thursday, astronomers working with the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope announced a startling discovery

The two exoplanets, both of which are already considered highly exotic, look even more strange than we thought

Not only do these worlds display strange sci-fi features – one is likely to contain a cloud of metal

One from which the liquid gems descend, and the other rains iron instead of water - but they also have barium in their atmosphere

This marks the heaviest element ever found in the atmosphere of an exoplanet, according to the team's new study

They are commonly combined with other elements to make things like drilling fluid for oil wells, glass making equipment and paint

In fact, the name "barium" is derived from the Greek word berries, which means - you guessed it - heavy

So identifying a medium in the atmosphere of an exoplanet, where lighter elements such as oxygen, carbon and hydrogen reside, is fascinating