Big Bang Monday: Hot Jupiters

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Fascinating, via NASA Visualization Explorer

In the search for Earth-like planets, astronomers uncover a strange blue world.

Scientists estimate more than 100 billion planets exist beyond our solar system. These alien worlds, known as exoplanets, orbit distant stars located light-years from Earth. One such planet is called HD 189733b. A gas giant slightly larger than Jupiter, HD 189733b circles its star from a distance of only 3 million miles. That’s 13 times closer than Mercury is to our sun. As a result, temperatures in its atmosphere approach 2,000°F. Astronomers discovered HD 189733b in 2005 after observing its parent star dimming with every pass, or transit, of the planet. We now know from follow-up observations by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope that HD 189733b is blue in color.

If only the original Star Trek was still around — they’d come up with a good episode around these “Hot Jupiters.” This one’s only 63 light years away.

We’re hoping our friends at BigBangPrints.com come out with an exoplanet gallery soon. For now, we’ll settle for regular Jupiter.


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