Hubble Spots Hot, Blue Planet Where It Rains Glass

Earnest Cavalli

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Hubble Spots Hot, Blue Planet Where It Rains Glass



Officially dubbed "HD 189733b," the distant blue world appears similar to our own from a distance, but look closely and you'll notice a few, very significant differences.

63 light years away from Earth lies a planet that astronomers have designated "HD 189733b." First discovered in 2005, HD 189733b is a big, blue ball, superficially similar to our own from a distance, which instantly drew the attention of NASA scientists. Unfortunately, that pretty azure color has little to do with the planet's ability to sustain life and more to do with the silicate particles floating through the planet's intensely hot atmosphere.

Researchers claim that HD 189733b maintains a 2,000-degree Fahrenheit temparture and that winds can reach speeds of 4,500 miles per hour. As a result of this apocalyptic climate, those silicate particles mentioned a moment ago periodically condense into small pieces of glass. Not only do these shards refract light, creating the planet's blue coloration, they also have a tendency to accumulate until they're too large and heavy to remain floating in its atmosphere. This is when scientists believe they can fall to the ground, creating a planet where it occasionally rains molten-hot glass.

Astronomers describe HD 189733b as a "hot Jupiter," due to both its immense size - it's larger than our less-incendiary Jupiter - and because it lies extremely close to its nearest star. How close? A mere 2.9 million miles, which means that the planet remains "gravity locked" by the star. As a result of this overwhelming force, one half of HD 189733b is always lit, while the other remains in permanent darkness. The dark side of HD 189733b isn't quite as hot as its sunnier counterpart, and features relatively cool temperatures of a mere 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit. Those glass showers are less likely to occur in these conditions, but it's still not a great choice for a vacation destination.

As an aside, how cool is this? It's a planet with winds that travel at speeds six times faster than the Earthbound speed of sound. It's a planet where instead of pleasant rain showers, you could potentially be pelted by jagged shards of white-hot glass that would slice you to bits if you hadn't already burst into flames from the planet's crazy-hot atmosphere.

This is the sort of amazing phenomena that lies outside of our planet, waiting to be discovered. Here's hoping Earth's governments come to realize how much we're missing by focusing all of our money on warfare and other trivialities that, in the grand scheme of human existence, amount to depressingly little.

Source: NASA [http://www.nasa.gov/content/nasa-hubble-finds-a-true-blue-planet/#.Ud8Nvz6glgJ]

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lacktheknack

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Jan 19, 2009
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<spoiler=Killjoy>What are you expecting the government to do? Bankrupt themselves while trying to develop FTL ships that not only have perfect efficiency and recycling, but break physics? It's impossible for anything to move even CLOSE to the speed of light without actually shifting the fabric of space-time, something that may not even be possible, let alone are we close to doing it. And we're missing... what? A handful of planets that MIGHT (but likely don't) support life, and a bunch of others that would kill us the second we got off the ship?

Still, raining glass is a bizarre and fun mental image, so thanks for that.
 

Albino Boo

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Earnest Cavalli said:
This is the sort of amazing phenomena that lies outside of our planet, waiting to be discovered. Here's hoping Earth's governments come to realize how much we're missing by focusing all of our money on warfare and other trivialities that, in the grand scheme of human existence, amount to depressingly little.
Well if you were the 15 year old girl who the tabilban shot in the head for wanting to go to school, I think you might think differently. http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/jun/16/observer-ethical-awards-2013-malala-yousafzai
 

1337mokro

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I have to post this... sorry guys... I have to inflict Euro pop onto you... forgive me!


To be honest, it amazes me how nature is basically 10 steps ahead of any world designer out there. I mean seriously how many sci-fi games have we had the past year that had actually interesting environments? Brown and gray, just keep painting the landscape brown and gray, we wouldn't want to make the environment your enemy as well. That might be interesting.

An azure planet that has silica wind storms?

We could harvest this planet for Helium for ages and basically power star-ships with it. That's why the governments should stop looking at just earth and squabbling over oil and look to the stars and think of the future of the Imperium of Man.
 

Jamous

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Guys you've kind of missed one of the big deals. We have a true colour image of this planet. It is insane. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-23275607
 

Thaluikhain

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Jan 16, 2010
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Well, if when you says "spots" you mean "was discovered in 2005" and when you says "rains glass" you mean "maybe".

Having said that, I would hope this would play its part in encouraging sci-fi stuff to move away from planets identical to Earth.
 

GundamSentinel

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Aug 23, 2009
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Utterly bizarre and amazing. Great to see reality still matching and outstripping science fiction on a regular basis.

Also:
Please use metric, decimal multiples really aren't that hard... >.>
 

elvor0

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That... is pretty frikking cool. And yeah like someone else said, that's some awesome world design by nature. A nuclear hot planet where it constantly rains glass? Obviously completely impossible to visit there short of developing some sort of magic sci-fantasy forcefield encased ultra steel, but sweet none the less.

Oh and how I wish we'd get the hang on some sort of proper space travel :( The mars colonization projects are starting under way which is awesome when you think about it, but it's not the same as us cruising the galaxy in starships, merc-ing and pulling hot alien babes. Ah one can hope we'll find some eezo and a mass relay in the next 20 years. Y'know, so I'm still young enough to cruise the galaxy in a star ship, mercing it up and pull hot alien babes.
 

Jadak

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Wait, I'm confused on one point. Overall, it sounds like it works like normal rain, except with rain, water vapour evaporates and heads back up into the atmosphere, allowing the cycle to continue.

How does that happen with glass? Wouldn't a glass chunk large enough to fall just kind of stay down, until eventually you had a planet coated in glass and that was the end of it?
 

CTYR

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Way to go, science! You have found the most metal planet in currently known existence!
 

Yuuki

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GundamSentinel said:
Utterly bizarre and amazing. Great to see reality still matching and outstripping science fiction on a regular basis.

Also:
Please use metric, decimal multiples really aren't that hard... >.>
Escapist is a US site, I'd go as far as saying the majority (or at least the dominating chunk) of viewers are from US. What do you expect? : /
 

Ace Morologist

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Earnest Cavalli said:
This is the sort of amazing phenomena that lies outside of our planet, waiting to be discovered. Here's hoping Earth's governments come to realize how much we're missing by focusing all of our money on warfare and other trivialities that, in the grand scheme of human existence, amount to depressingly little.
Um... It has been discovered, right? And from right here on Earth with technology we've already got available (plus a healthy dose of scientific speculation). That's still pretty cool, man.

Besides, nations don't really fund grand, lifetime-spanning voyages of scientific exploration just for the grand and glorious sake of doing so. Private corporations or preposterously rich individuals might, but governments don't really do that, I thought. Governments fund vast expeditions that will yield them valuable resources or places to expand into. Not to say space won't be a frontier for that someday, but right now we've got legitimately more important concerns right here on Earth on which our money could be better spent.

Not warfare, granted, but other stuff. Medicine, clean energy, uplift, oceanic exploration...

--Morology!
 

Callex

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Jamous said:
Guys you've kind of missed one of the big deals. We have a true colour image of this planet. It is insane. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-23275607
If only! Astronomers are buggers for dressing discoveries up with big fancy unlabelled artist's conceptions. We don't have the technology at present to really resolve an extra-solar planet; any light reflected off it tends to get drowned out by the host star. The usual technique is to look for a periodic dimming as the planet comes between us and the star.

Still, fingers crossed for the future! I hear the James Webb telescope will be able to resolve planets, albeit as tiny spots - but it's a step in the right direction!
 

RJ 17

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Nov 27, 2011
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Reminds me of that mission from Gears of War 2. When it rains razor sharp shards of glass, you know you're on the wrong planet.

Still, I do think it's very neat to discover stuff like this. It's a true testament to the infinite possibilities out there in the universe. A planet where it rains glass? Sure, why not?
 

BurningWyvern90

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May 21, 2013
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NameIsRobertPaulson said:
Jadak said:
Wait, I'm confused on one point. Overall, it sounds like it works like normal rain, except with rain, water vapour evaporates and heads back up into the atmosphere, allowing the cycle to continue.

How does that happen with glass? Wouldn't a glass chunk large enough to fall just kind of stay down, until eventually you had a planet coated in glass and that was the end of it?
The high speed winds would break apart surface glass once it had cooled (slightly), turning it back into silicon fragments to be carried back into the atmosphere.
And I read elsewhere that because the windspeed is so fast, it's raining sideways, so presumably there are a lot of collisions mid-air that result in all kinds of fluid dynamic fun. It's like the LHC, but with molten glass.

In any case, this is probably the coolest exoplanet find EVER. Astrobiology is awesome and all, but THIS PLANET RAINS GLASS. I mean, really.