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Terbium among the heavy elements discovered in the atmosphere of the exoplanet KELT-9b

Exoplanet and star as imagined by the artist. Credit: Bibiana Prinoth

In a recent paper, Nicholas Borsato, along with collaborators Jens Hoeijmakers, Bibiana Prinoth, Brian Thorsbro, and Rebecca Forsberg, provides insightful research on the complex atmospheric composition of the exoplanet KELT-9b. The team captured the exoplanet's spectra during transit, revealing numerous elements within its atmosphere.

This study not only verifies the presence of previously known elements but also introduces the discovery of eight additional atomic and ionised species in the planet's atmosphere. The team confidently identified Ca I, Cr I, Ni I, Sr II, and Tb II. Additionally, they also detected Ti I, V I, and Ba II with a good level of certainty.

Their research has been recognized by SVT and it was featured on the front page of Lund University, reflecting its significant connection to Swedish history. The article, linked below, specifically highlights the detection of Terbium, a rare heavy metal first identified in 1843 by Swedish chemist Carl Gustaf Mosander, thereby adding a touch of historical context to this discovery.