For First Time, Astronomers Read Exoplanet’s Color

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Ker Than
National Geographic
July 12, 2013

A giant gaseous planet that’s orbiting a star 63 light-years away is a deep cobalt blue that’s reminiscent of Earth’s color as seen from space, scientists say, marking the first time an exoplanet’s true color has been determined.

The Jupiter-like world, HD 189733b, might share Earth’s complexion, but that’s where the similarities with our pale blue dot ends: Its daytime temperature is nearly 2,000°F (1,093°C), and its blue color comes is the result of nonstop raining glass on the planet.

Scientists think it’s possible the alien world’s atmosphere is filled with tiny silicate particles, much smaller than a grain of sand, that get blown sideways in howling, 4,500-mile (7,242-kilometer) per hour winds. The silicate particles are thought to form hazy clouds that scatter blue light and give the planet its unique color.

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This article was posted: Friday, July 12, 2013 at 3:47 pm

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