For the first time ever, scientists have observed weather patterns on a gas giant outside of our solar system, a team of British researchers announced Monday.
Researchers at the University of Warwick observed cloud formation and weather patterns on the massive exoplanet HAT-P-7b from 1,040 light-years away, thanks to data from NASA’s planet-hunting Kepler space telescope. And what they found startled them.
Scientists knew from previous studies that HAT-P-7b, which is 40 percent larger than Jupiter and 500 times more massive than the Earth, moves in a tight orbit around its star, completing a full revolution in just 2.2 days. Because of that proximity, the exoplanet is tidally locked, with one side of the permanently facing the star, much like Earth’s moon is tidally locked to Earth.