Thursday, October 3, 2013

Clouds Mapped on An Exoplanet

Hey Space Placers!

The discovery of exoplanets continues in full force - there are almost 1,000 worlds known beyond our solar system - and we have now actually mapped the clouds on a distant world called Kepler 7b.


That is a pretty nifty feat to do on a world that is about 1,000 light years away! 

Astronomers are able to do this by analyzing the light obtained by NASA's Kepler spacecraft. By looking at Kepler 7b at various points in its orbit around its parent star astronomers are able to determine temperature, reflectivity and then make maps of the cloud cover.

Kepler 7b is a "hot Jupiter' type exoplanet which means it is a gas giant about 50% larger than our own Jupiter. It is tidally locked with its star which means that just like our Moon, the same side always faces its star and go through phases. essentially one side of the planet is always cloudy while the other is clear.

Sky Guy in VA

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