t’s cloudy with a chance of gemstones. A super-sized planet 1000 light years from Earth has clouds that may contain the building blocks of rubies and sapphires, according to the first exoplanet meteorology report.
The planets in our solar system experience a wide variety of weather, from Jupiter’s famous Great Red Spot through Mars’s dust devils to Saturn’s hexagonal north polar storm. But planets around other stars are too distant for us to directly discern their short-term weather, such as changes in clouds or wind.
Now, David Armstrong at the University of Warwick, UK, and colleagues scrutinised four years of data from the Kepler satellite, and noticed that the brightness of a planet called HAT-P-7b changed over time.
“With this four-year timeline, you can really start to look in depth at these planets,” says Hannah Wakeford, who studies exoplanet atmospheres at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and was not involved in the work. “Our full understanding of these planets and the clouds in their atmospheres is just beginning.”To read more, click here.