A newly discovered planet possibly rains glass, and has howling winds that whip at 4,350 miles- per-hour, scientists say.
Planet HD 189733b was observed crossing the face of its star by an international group of astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope.
The new planet is orbiting a star which is 63 light-years away (about 372 trillion miles) and like the Earth is blue in color, according to Tom Evans of the University of Oxford.
According to an international team of astronomers, the blue color likely comes from a foggy, and blow-torched atmosphere comprising high clouds spiked with silicate particles. Melting silicates, condensing in the heat, likely form very small drops of glass that scatter the blue light.
The space telescope examined the planet, before, during and after it was eclipsed by its star, allowing astronomers to subtract the light from the star from the light reflected off the planet. This gave them a sense of the planet’s color.
“We saw the light becoming less bright in the blue but not in the green or red. Light was missing in the blue but not in the red when it was hidden,” Frederic Pont, a scientist at the University of Exeter in South West England said. “This means that the object that disappeared was blue,” he added.
Evans confirmed this in a statement. He said, “We saw the brightness of the whole system drop in the blue part of the spectrum when the planet passed behind its star. From this, we can gather that the planet is blue, because the signal remained constant.”
This is unlike on the Earth where its blue color is reflected from the tropical oceans.
Scientists making the observations and studying them have found the planet’s atmosphere to be changeable and striking. They say on this tempestuous alien world, the daytime temperature soars to nearly 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit and winds howl at 4,350 miles-per-hour. Scientists also added the glass rains sideways.
According to scientists, HD 189733b is a Jupiter-size planet, about 13% bulkier than the largest planet in our solar system. It orbits very close to its star, circling it once every 2.2 days. The planet, they say, belongs to an unusual class of planets called hot Jupiters.
Hot Jupiters, scientists say, orbit perilously close to their parent stars and, therefore, remain locked gravitationally. This means that one side of the planet is always in the light and facing its sun and the other side is perennially in the dark.
Scientists say clouds often play crucial part in planetary atmospheres. Detecting the presence and importance of clouds in hot Jupiters is vital to their study of the physics and climatology of other planets. Scientists are excited about this new discovery because the blue planet’s observations yield fresh insights into the chemical composition and cloud structure of the entire group of these planets.
Extrapolating on this, Alan Boss, planetary theorist at the Carnegie Institution in Washington, D.C. said, “It is by no means a giant step forward, but a nice observation with implications for clouds in this hot Jupiter’s atmosphere, one of the key details for those who model the atmospheres of these hot planets. It is amazing to think that we can now make measurements that tell us something about the cloud cover on distant exoplanets, and is especially amazing when we cannot even see these hot Jupiters directly.”
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By Perviz Walji