Sunny with a risk of MOLTEN METAL storms: Weather patterns on alien world beyond our solar system seen for first time
Astronomers have noticed the brightness of PSO J318.5-22 varies regularly
This may be due to clouds of molten metal passing over the surface
They believe the distant world may host huge hurricanes like on Jupiter
PSO J318.5-22 is around 75 light years from Earth and does not have a star
It makes even the most powerful storms on Earth look puny.
A distant lonely planet drifting through space has been found to have swirling clouds of molten metal in its atmosphere.
It is potentially the first time scientists have been able to see weather on a world outside our own solar system.
The exoplanet, known as PSO J318.5-22, is already known as a bit of a cosmic oddball – it appears to be floating free through space without a host star to orbit.Astronomers using an infrared instruments on the European Southern Observatory's New Technology Telescope in Chile found the brightness of the planet appears to vary.In just a few hours they found the amount of light reflected from the planet, which is about eight times bigger than Jupiter, changed by about 10 per cent.
This, according to the scientists, could be due to clouds of molten metal passing across the face of the planet as it rotates.They told New Scientist these could be similar to the Great Red Spot on Jupiter – thought to be a huge high pressure storm similar to a hurricane that is three times bigger than the entire Earth.
PSO J318.5-22 has a distinctive red colour that appear to be droplets of iron and silicate condensing into atmospheric clouds.
Analysis by the scientists also suggests the clouds may be extremely thick, extending all the way to the top of the atmosphere.
Dr Beth Biller, who led the study at the University of Edinburgh's school of physics and astronomy, said: 'This discovery shows just how ubiquitous clouds are in planets and planet-like objects.'
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Discussions about the sky, the moon, the stars, etc.
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