Feeds

Hubble spots ALIEN NAVY world – and it's pelted with GLASS RAIN

Whoops, missed out a comma there

Application security programs and practises

Pic NASA's Hubble space telescope has found another deep blue planet in space - but the inhospitable world is not a watery orb like Earth, but a scorching rock pelted with glass rain.

Artist’s impression of deep blue planet HD 189733b

You blue-ty ... Artist’s impression of deep blue planet HD 189733b, presumably because it's too far away to snap in high-def
(Credit: NASA, ESA, M. Kornmesser)

Astroboffins have figured out that the true colour of the planet is blue using visible-light observations taken by Hubble's Imaging Spectograph as the globe moved around its star 63 light years away.

"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," said researcher Frederic Pont of the University of Exeter. "This means that the object that disappeared was blue."

However, the mysterious world - catchily named HD 189733b - isn't a waterlogged home, but a hellish alien body with daytime temperatures of nearly 1,100 degrees Centigrade (2,000°F) and possibly glass rain that howls across the surface sideways in 7,000kmph (4,300mph) winds. The blue colour comes from a hazy atmosphere of high clouds laced with silicate particles, which condense in the heat to potentially form the drops of glass rain.

The planet is doubly interesting for being in the unusual "hot Jupiter" class of world that orbits precariously close to its star and having such a bizarre atmosphere.

"We obviously don't know much on the physics and climatology of silicate clouds, so we are exploring a new domain of atmospheric physics," Pont said.

Orbiting just 2.9 million miles from its sun, the planet, which was first spotted by scientists in 2005, is so close that it's "tidally locked" - one side always faces the star and the other is always dark.

In 2007, the Spitzer Space Telescope measured HD 189733b's infrared light, producing one of the first ever temperature maps of an exoplanet. It showed that the dayside and nightside temperatures differed by around 260°C (500°F), which would cause fierce winds to roar from day to night, driving the sideways glass rain.

But it's difficult for boffins to know exactly what causes a planet's colour, even in our own solar system. Scientists are still unsure exactly why Jupiter is reddish and Venus doesn't reflect ultraviolet light, but boffins don't know what is absorbing the UV in its atmosphere. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Asteroid's DINO KILLING SPREE just bad luck – boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.