Feeds

Spitzer stargazers find hot, windy planets

NASA does exo-weather

Intelligent flash storage arrays

NASA has moved into extra-solar planetary weather forecasting. Well, mapping, but one has to start somewhere. Researchers using the agency's Spitzer infrared space telescope have mapped the weather patterns of two extremely hot, distant planets.

The May 9th edition of Nature carries a description of the winds on the surface of a gas giant known as HD 189733b (ah, the romance) and the discovery that gas giant HD 149026b is the hottest ever discovered. In the interests of keeping your attention, we're going to rename the two planets Windy and Spicy, respectively, for the duration of the article.

"We have mapped the temperature variations with longitude across the entire surface of a planet that is so far away, its light takes 60 years to reach us," said Heather Knutson of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, lead author of the paper describing Windy.

The planet Windy is located 60 light-years away in the constellation Vulpecula. It orbits its host star in a speedy 2.2 days, happily passing between the star and the Earth, giving astronomers the best possible view.

The researchers took roughly a quarter of a million measurements of the planet's face in the infrared, and built them up into a map of the entire surface.

They discovered that the planet is a perfectly delightful 1,200 F on the dark side to 1,700 F on the sunlit side. (Yes, this is Windy, not Spicy.) The relatively small variation in temperature from one side of the planet to the other suggests that the atmosphere must be whipped around the planet on jet stream winds reaching as much as 6,000mph.

Spicy, meanwhile, is even hotter, checking in at a seriously melting 3,700 F. The planet is located 279 light-years away in the constellation Hercules. It is the smallest and densest known transiting planet, with a size similar to Saturn's and a core suspected to be 70 to 90 times the mass of Earth.

Joseph Harrington of the University of Central Florida said: "This planet is like a chunk of hot coal in space. We believe its heat is not being spread around. The day side is very hot, and the night side is probably much colder."

Harrington added that the planet reflects virtually no starlight. This, he says, means that it is probably the blackest body ever found, as well as the hottest. ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
The next big thing in medical science: POO TRANSPLANTS
Your brother's gonna die, kid, unless we can give him your, well ...
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing and building an open ITOA architecture
Learn about a new IT data taxonomy defined by the four data sources of IT visibility: wire, machine, agent, and synthetic data sets.
5 critical considerations for enterprise cloud backup
Key considerations when evaluating cloud backup solutions to ensure adequate protection security and availability of enterprise data.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Protecting against web application threats using SSL
SSL encryption can protect server‐to‐server communications, client devices, cloud resources, and other endpoints in order to help prevent the risk of data loss and losing customer trust.