Universe, Light and Glass

63 light-years away from the Solar System there is a planet called HD 189733 b.
The planet was discovered in 2005 by some French astronomers who were making some observations with the Spitzer Space Telescope. It is a massive gaseous planet whose mass is slightly higher than that of Jupiter.
However, this planet is well-known for another record: it was the first extrasolar planet for which a thermal map was constructed, thus having its colour determined. A spectrometer on the Hubble Space Telescope allowed some scientists from the Oxford University to analyse the light which was reflected by its surface. They found that the planet albedo (i.e. its optical brightness) was significantly larger in blue light than in the red, thus confirming its cobalt blue colour.

However, HD 189733 b is renowned for another distinguishing feature. Silicates which have been detected on its atmosphere precipitate on its surface, thus creating spectacular glass rains. Needless to say – the marvellous view offered by the glass drops reflecting blue light is absolutely awe-inspiring. Even though we can enjoy this view only from the space, since living on this planet is definitely impossible!

 * It is an instrument used to measure the intensity of light as a function of wavelength or of frequency.

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