Hubble Telescope Spots a Blue PlanetBy: Sean Patterson - July 11, 2013
Astronomers have been finding and cataloging exoplanets for years now, but NASA this week announced that the Hubble Space Telescope has helped determined the color of a planet orbiting a star 63 light-years from our solar system.
The planet, HD 189733b, has been found to be blue in color. Astronomers determined this using Hubble’s imaging spectrograph, which was able to measure color changes in the planet while it passed behind its star.
“We saw the light becoming less bright in the blue but not in the green or red,” said Frederic Pont, a member of the research team and an astrophysicist at the University of Exeter. “Light was missing in the blue but not in the red when it was hidden. This means that the object that disappeared was blue.”
If it were possible to see the planet in visible light, the planet might resemble a blue dot similar to Earth. Seem up close, however, the planet would be very different from our own. Astronomers describe HD 189733b as a “turbulent” world where temperatures reach 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit and glass rains from the sky. The blue color does not come from an ocean but from silicate particles hight in the planet’s atmosphere.
HD 189733b was discovered in 2005 and is what Astronomers call a “hot Jupiter.” The planet orbits only 2.9 million miles from its star and is gravitationally locked. This means differing temperatures on each side of the planet cause massive storms and winds that can reach 4,500 miles per hour.