Friday, July 12, 2013

Blue Planet, Glass Rain

(NASA, ESA, M. Kornmesser, via, used w/o permission.)
"This illustration shows HD 189733b, a huge gas giant that orbits very close to its host star HD 189733. The planet's atmosphere is scorching with a temperature of over 1000 degrees Celsius, and it rains glass, sideways, in howling 7000 kilometer-per-hour winds. Image released July 11, 2013...."

"Strange Blue World: Alien Planet's True Color Revealed, a First"
Miriam Kramer, (July 11, 2013)

" Call it the deep blue dot. For the first time, scientists have seen the visible color of a distant alien world. The exoplanet - called HD 189733b - is 63 light-years from Earth and a 'deep cobalt blue,' with raging storms of glass rain and super-fast winds, scientists say.

"The alien planet's blue color was pinned down using observations from the Hubble Space Telescope. Although the planet might be the same color as Earth from space, scientists think that HD 189733b is a 'hot Jupiter' - a gas giant planet that orbits very close to its star. It takes 2.2 Earth days for the planet to travel fully around its sun...."

The scientists found HD 189733b's color by tracking colors of the planet and its star. When the hot Jupiter went behind its star, light from the system dropped in the blue end of the spectrum.

Hubble observing leader Frédéric Pont says measuring this exoplanet's color is a "real first."

Blue, Yes: Cool, Yes and No

"...The exoplanet's weather is less than ideal. Its atmosphere is more than 1,832 degrees Fahrenheit (1,000 degrees Celsius) and the planet rains glass sideways in 4,350 mile per hour (7,000 km/h) winds, according to Hubble officials...."
(Miriam Kramer,

A world where it's hot enough to melt brass is definitely "less than ideal" for critters like humans. Life on Earth is built of nucleic acids and proteins dissolved in water. That may be the only possible chemical brew for life: or not. (March 15, 2013)

Either way, HD 189733b is a satisfactorily odd planet, from the Lemming's point of view: so it's cool, sort of.

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