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Gliese 436 b: A Planet with Burning Ice

Feb 5, 2024, 03:26 PM IST

Gliese 436 b: A Planet with Burning Ice

Harshit Sabarwal

All images: NASA, representative images

Harshit Sabarwal

A Neptune-Sized Exoplanet

Gliese 436 b, also known as GJ 436 b, is a Neptune-sized exoplanet that is around 33 light years away from Earth. According to NASA, Gliese 436 b’s discovery was announced in 2004. The planet orbits an M-type star, and its mass is 22.1 Earths.

A World Where Ice Burns

Gliese 436 b is Made of Excruciatingly Hot Ice. Researchers believe that the ice has been hardened by pressure rather than temperature. The planet’s temperature exceeds 526ºC (or 980ºF).

Gliese 436 b Lacks Methane

NASA has said that Gliese 436 b has more than 7,000 times less methane than it should, and it has a surprising abundance of carbon monoxide molecules.

Less Methane, but Surprising Abundance of Carbon Monoxide

As per NASA, models of planetary atmospheres indicate that any world with a common mix of hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen, and a temperature up to 1,340ºF should have a large amount of methane and a small amount of carbon monoxide. However, it is the opposite for Gliese 436 b as it has less methane and a surprising abundance of carbon monoxide molecules.

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