Rain, rain, go away

HD_189733_b_deep_blue_dotWe’ve all been there.

Wake up in the morning, get the coffee, look out the window – and see pouring rain.

Some people, like me, enjoy the rain. Others, not so much.

Now, imagine looking out the window to see rain composed of superheated glass moving horizontally, propelled by 4,500 MPH winds. To make things more interesting, imagine this occuring while the temperature on the other side of the glass was around 2,000 F.

That’s what scientists have found to be happening on HD 189733b, an exoplanet about 63 light-years away, which was first discovered in 2005. A gas giant, HD 189733b has been determined to appear deep blue, due to silicates in the upper atmosphere, meaning that molten glass rain could result when the silicates undergo condensation.

Another odd feature of HD 189733b is that it orbits its star at a distance of only 2,900,000 miles. It’s so close, in fact, that it’s tidally locked to the star, meaning that the same side always faces the star, much the same way that one side of the Moon always faces Earth.

By comparison, the planet Mercury never gets closer to the Sun than about 28,500,000 miles.

Suddenly the gentle showers we get here don’t seem so bad, do they?



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