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Glass Rain on Blue Alien Planet: Molten Glass Falls from the Sky

First Posted: Sep 04, 2013 09:38 AM EDT
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A blue planet named HD 189733b features rain of molten glass "whipping about in its atmosphere" at 7,000 km/h. Scott Sutherland (Geekquinox) reports that astronomers have been interested in this intriguing planet since 2005, when it was first discovered, because of its similarity to Earth. With the recent discovery, however, it seems that the similarity stops in the blue color of the planet's appearance.

HD 189733b is about the size of Jupiter, and is located "63 light years away in the northern constellation of Vulpecula." Astronomers have been searching for blue planets, hoping they would find an alien world similar to Earth, when they discovered this intriguing globe. Further study and research however reveal that HD 189733b is amazingly different from our very own planet.

For one, it takes only 53 hours for it to make a full orbit of its star. Also, the atmosphere of the planet is extremely hot, with its temperature reaching up to 1,000-1,300°C, a scorching rarity even within our solar system. Its rain is made up of small molten particles of silicate glass. HD 189733b is a blue planet like Earth, but it is obviously not suitable for Earthling life.  The discovery of this alien world does confirm one thing: that the galaxy contains numerous planetary wonders way beyond the imagination, even science fiction writers have not yet conceived of.  

HD 189733b is the very first planet with accurate description in terms of its color. In the past, when astronomers discover planets, the colors ascribed to them in illustrations are merely assumptions made by the artist. For this planet, however, astronomers were able to determine its real color by observing it as it moved within its solar system.

Unfortunately however, HD 189733b could not be seen directly from telescopes as it moves too close to its star.

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