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The Blistering Hot Exoplanet Where It Snows

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the blame-the-space-alien-groundhogs dept.

Space 68

cylonlover writes "Today's weather on HD 189733b: It will be hazy with high wispy clouds. The wind will be steady from the east at speeds approaching 6,000 miles per hour (9,656 km/h). Daytime temperatures will average a balmy 800C (1,472F), while the equatorial hot spot at 30 degrees longitude is expected to top 900C (1,652F). But, there is a high chance of silicate snow showers, with accumulations expected except in the vicinity of the hot spot. Just how much can astronomical observations tell us about exoplanets — those worlds orbiting other stars in our galaxy? With patience and cunning, more than you might think."

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Weather forecasters (4, Funny)

Rhodri Mawr (862554) | more than 2 years ago | (#39350177)

I don't know. I travelled all the way to HD 189733b, I was promised snow showers, wispy clouds, high winds. But, just my luck, it rained. It must be because I'm Welsh.

Re:Weather forecasters (1)

Saintwolf (1224524) | more than 2 years ago | (#39350371)

At least Michael Fish [wikipedia.org] didn't do the forecast ;)

Re:Weather forecasters (2)

flyneye (84093) | more than 2 years ago | (#39350687)

Weather men can't predict much better than a coin flip on this planet. Suddenly I should believe a prediction on a distant planet?

Re:Weather forecasters (2)

terrox (555131) | more than 2 years ago | (#39351499)

more like, we can hardly predict the surface conditions of Mars until we go there with a probe - further planets are mostly a guess, and planets lightyears away?.. hahahah.. super guestimate based on guesses based on earth. 1% chance of being correct.

Re:Weather forecasters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39357357)

Uranus is being circled by a Brown Horizon. A deep space probe.

Re:Weather forecasters (3, Interesting)

niktemadur (793971) | more than 2 years ago | (#39350787)

Does being Welsh make you arrive 63 years late at 99.99% the speed of light?

Re:Weather forecasters (5, Funny)

ciderbrew (1860166) | more than 2 years ago | (#39350995)

Having waited in a pub for a Welsh bloke to turn up on a number of occasions, I'd say 63 years late was rather prompt. The amount of drinking done after they arrive is worth the wait. You'd not want to start much earlier.

Re:Weather forecasters (1)

niktemadur (793971) | more than 2 years ago | (#39351197)

Great. Only too late do I wish I had mod points.

You'd not want to start much earlier.
Yes, factoring in the shut-ins at pubs. Been there in Wales (Raglan, to be precise), great fun until shamefully late hours.
Ah, the memories...

Re:Weather forecasters (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 2 years ago | (#39351343)

You'd not want to start much earlier.

Well, with a wait of 63 years, that takes a lot of self-control...

Re:Weather forecasters (1)

Rhodri Mawr (862554) | more than 2 years ago | (#39358093)

There's a reason that jokes start "An Englishman, a Scotsman and an Irishman walk into a bar..." - the Welshman was already there from the night before.

Re:Weather forecasters (1)

Thing 1 (178996) | more than 2 years ago | (#39395493)

Not sure whether Welsh are late, but being from Wight helps to make you early:

There once was a man from Wight
Who could travel much faster than light
He set off one day
In a relative way
And returned home the previous night.

My favorite non-licentious limerick!

Re:Weather forecasters (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39351163)

I thought the weather quite dry. I'm from Seattle.

What to name it? (1)

Dogbertius (1333565) | more than 2 years ago | (#39351429)

So would this be ShiverBurn or FreezeFlame I? So long as I don't have to run up the volcano without touching lava once, I think I'll be fine.

And I, for one, would just like to say: "Welcome, new a galaxy!!"

Re:Weather forecasters (1)

need4mospd (1146215) | more than 2 years ago | (#39354337)

At least it wasn't some Canadian guy trying to sing reggae music.

I welcome (0)

Dave Whiteside (2055370) | more than 2 years ago | (#39350191)

our sandy overlords.

it's all very interesting but we're not likely to visit anytime soon so is there a point ? or is knowledge for knowledge sake enough ?

Re:I welcome (4, Insightful)

dominious (1077089) | more than 2 years ago | (#39350245)

This is not just for knowledge sake. Weather conditions on other planets may help us understand weather behaviour in general, and in turn understand better the weather conditions on our own planet.

Re:I welcome (4, Insightful)

An Anonymous Coward (236011) | more than 2 years ago | (#39350505)

Well sure, if we could actually observe the weather on this planet and confirm or refine our speculations, that would be great. Unfortunately, the technology to do so is well beyond our means at this point. By the time we actually are able to directly observe this planet, our weather models will probably be much more refined as well.

I'm reminded of the planet discovered over a year ago that was tidally locked to its star, which created a habitable zone circling the planet where the light from the star would hit it at an oblong angle, creating a zone of essentially perpetual twilight where life could form. We had quite a few ideas already for what the environment on this planet must be like, until further measurements of the star system revealed that the "planet" was really just minor errors in the calculations of the star's wobble, and there wasn't even a planet there to begin with.

This article isn't "just knowledge for knowledge's sake." Indeed, it seems to be purely speculation for speculation's sake. I'm actually very concerned by the line in the summary, "With patience and cunning, more than you might think," because that really implies we know a lot more about what we're talking about than we actually do. I'll just be happy when the weather forecaster on TV can accurately tell me the weather for the next week.

Re:I welcome (1)

troon (724114) | more than 2 years ago | (#39350765)

What, this one?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gliese_581_g [wikipedia.org]

All sorts of data and predictions, mixed in with a large dose of "it's probably not there"...

Re:I welcome (-1, Flamebait)

flyneye (84093) | more than 2 years ago | (#39350711)

10% Chance of a Democrat funding galactic weather reports followed by showers of delusion and a cold front pushing into the rectal area. We should see this clearing up in the next century or so. And now Matt with Sports...

Re:I welcome (-1, Offtopic)

cptdondo (59460) | more than 2 years ago | (#39350747)

Gingrich switched parties?

Re:I welcome (0)

flyneye (84093) | more than 2 years ago | (#39362321)

No, he WENT to a different party, the last one only had a keg and hookers, this one has nitrous oxide and hermaphroditic geminids.
There are no parties,there is a party that pretends it is two by having cosmetic differences to fool the suckers.
Repubmocrats have ruled us nearly unopposed for more than a century.

Re:I welcome (2)

theguyfromsaturn (802938) | more than 2 years ago | (#39351851)

Of course knowledge for knowledge sake is enough. Who knows when "useless" knowledge becomes useful. When computers first appeared lot of theory on discrete compuations and methods had been developped, decades, and in some cases centuries, before it became practical. This then was only "knowledge for knowledge's sake". Then the electronic computers made it so much more useful. But without that background work, it might not even have been practical to develop computers without anything to use them with. While it's good to look for practical applications for knowledge, the lack of immediate application does not render said knowledge irrelevant. One day it may turn out that that bacground info becomes the seed of something revolutionnary.

It's all speculation until you go there (3, Interesting)

Spy Handler (822350) | more than 2 years ago | (#39350219)

Take Mars for instance. There was a lot of good scientific guesswork based on indirect observation, but when they finally sent a probe there, all the talk about canals and whatnot faded away...

Re:It's all speculation until you go there (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39350263)

the Canals nonesense was explained by the astronomer who observed them actually seeing the blood vessels in his own eyes.

Re:It's all speculation until you go there (4, Informative)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#39350287)

He didn't even call them canals - he thought they were a naturally-occuring formation - but a translation error rendered them as 'canals' when his work was translated to english.

Re:It's all speculation until you go there (4, Informative)

Muad'Dave (255648) | more than 2 years ago | (#39351647)

He called them 'canali' which is Italian for channels [google.com] ; a word that does not carry the same anthropomorphic baggage as canals.

Thank heaven it didn't get mistranslated into cannoli - we'd have a line of Paula Dean wannabees lines up for launch.

Re:It's all speculation until you go there (4, Insightful)

amck (34780) | more than 2 years ago | (#39350307)

We actually run weather and climate models for Mars, now. Currently we've run models on Mars, Titan and Venus, based on Earth weather models. Its a good check on whether the models are right: physics is physics, and bar changing some specific details (water -> methane, CO2 condenses out on Mars, etc) if the model doesn't work on Mars, somethings wrong with the model.

Re:It's all speculation until you go there (1)

AdrianKemp (1988748) | more than 2 years ago | (#39350923)

Yeah, but it doesn't work on Earth either.

Although there is truth behind what you say you have the reasoning wrong. Models on other planets allow us more than one point of data for atmospheric study, and do thus allow for better understandings.

It's not about testing the model, it's about trying to make it work at all.

But if its a gas giant, where... (1)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 2 years ago | (#39350241)

.... does the silicate come from? Will it have migrated all the way from the (presumably) rocky core through thousands of miles of gas or is it formed by some sort of reaction in the atmosphere?

Re:But if its a gas giant, where... (1)

captainpanic (1173915) | more than 2 years ago | (#39351159)

On such a planet, silicate IS perhaps the gas (in a similar way that our atmosphere consists partially of water vapor)?

Re:But if its a gas giant, where... (1)

Muad'Dave (255648) | more than 2 years ago | (#39351717)

Hopefully it's not the silicon analog to methane - silane [wikipedia.org] . Here on Earth it's toxic and pyrophoric (self-igniting) in air. Nasty business. Imagine opening a valve on a silane tank and getting a '30 FOOT TONGUE OF LETHAL FLAME!' [homage to a jet dragster commercial from my youth].

Everything's fine. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39350261)

I'm a buttnude.

Speculation and hypothesis (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39350265)

...Not to put this work down at all. It is important and difficult and it is amazing how far we've come. But our ability to observe is limited so a lot of this is by necessity speculation and hypothesis. The planets in our own solar system - much nearer - still offer suprrises when we visit them. To think that we can know with any real certainty what exoplanets are like from the limited data our current tech gathers is foolish to say the least.

Better name for planet (1)

TheHonch (1390893) | more than 2 years ago | (#39350289)

Hoth of course!

Re:Better name for planet (1)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | more than 2 years ago | (#39351655)

>> Daytime temperatures will average a balmy 800C

Or at least Hot.

Re:Better name for planet (1)

Zephyn (415698) | more than 2 years ago | (#39352795)

But it only feels like 780C with the wind chill.

Re:Better name for planet (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | more than 2 years ago | (#39353701)

Shoulda called it Coldth. Am I right? I'm right.

AGW again! (4, Funny)

billrp (1530055) | more than 2 years ago | (#39350355)

By just observing the weather we've probably already changed it!

Oh yeah? (0)

corisco (1038076) | more than 2 years ago | (#39350363)

One could multiply all those numbers by a 1000 and no one would know the difference !

9,656 km/h (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39350611)

You whip your scientific superdupermegacalculator and unit conversion tool (or just use google.com). You enter "6000 mph in km/h". You get back a figure of 9656. You paste it to the article you're writing. Everything is OK.

Except you have no business writing about science. The source figure has one (that's 1.000e0 for you) significant digit. One. The result cannot be more precise than that. Got it? GOT IT?

Re:9,656 km/h (5, Funny)

ridley4 (1535661) | more than 2 years ago | (#39350649)

This is a prime example of over-applying significant digits in your math.
Don't let this happen to you. Millions of nitpicks are made each year when significance arithmetic is misused and overused. They need your help.

Please use significant digits responsibly. Thank you.

Re:9,656 km/h (1)

ediron2 (246908) | more than 2 years ago | (#39352851)

Damn shame you didn't go for the ironic and say '8,675,309 nitpicks are made each year...'

Re:9,656 km/h (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39355161)

What is the imperial unit for nitpicks ? Because they can only be metric themselves...

Re:9,656 km/h (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39353609)

The internationalization is also inconsistent. ... Miles/hour ... C
Either list them in US (/sigh) units with non-US in parenthesis or vice versa; listing US speed and non-US temperature is correct for no audience.

Re:9,656 km/h (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39351199)

How can you tell?

Maybe the source has 4 significant digits and was measured to be EXACTLY 6000 mph?

Orbitting an "exosun"? (2)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 2 years ago | (#39350683)

Planet. It's a planet. Flash Gordon didn't rock the spandex on "exoplanets". Captain Kirk didn't put the beat-down on that Gorn on an "exoearth".

They're just planets. The context makes it all clear, and "exo" is just meaningless marketeer blurb. Please stop it.

Re:Orbitting an "exosun"? (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 2 years ago | (#39351723)

Planet. It's a planet. Flash Gordon didn't rock the spandex on "exoplanets". Captain Kirk didn't put the beat-down on that Gorn on an "exoearth".

They've tried to stop it, but have made a compromise... The term was shortened from: Extra-Terrestrial Planets.

Re:Orbitting an "exosun"? (1)

homsar (2461440) | more than 2 years ago | (#39351835)

Oh, I thought it was extra-solar. As in, not part of our solar system. Non-exo planets would be much more exciting to discover (if far less likely, unless you count dwarf planets).

Re:Orbitting an "exosun"? (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 2 years ago | (#39356791)

Extra-Terrestrial means not Earth.

Re:Orbitting an "exosun"? (1)

tomhath (637240) | more than 2 years ago | (#39352967)

Call in an "exosolar planet", "unbound free-floating planetary-mass body", or "exoplanet", but it's reasonable to qualify the word to indicate that the planet is not bound to our Sun or another star.

Re:Orbitting an "exosun"? (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 2 years ago | (#39356869)

Exosolar planet means not around our star. Our sun's name is Sol.
Exostellar would mean an unbounded free-floating planetary-mass body but that has other issues since the current definition of a plant involves it sweeping it's orbit clear of other bodies which a free-floating mass can not really do but it is still workable.

Re:Orbitting an "exosun"? (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#39353047)

Flash Gordon and Star Trek were fiction. We knew of no exoplanets in the 1930s and 1960s. The name wasn't thought up by marketers, it was coined by astronomers.

Likewise, the SF guys all call our star the "sun" while Alpha Proxima is simply a "star". Solar planets are unique in that they circle not a star, but the sun -- even though the sun is a star.

It's a lot more logical than planets vs dwarf planets.

Re:Orbitting an "exosun"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39356221)

Sorry, according to the IAU, only objects within the solar system are considered 'planets'.

Imperialistic units in the future? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39350731)

When such weather forecasts will be on air, retarded imperialistic units will be obsolete for at least 200 years. SI units ftw.

i think this would put a damper (1)

decora (1710862) | more than 2 years ago | (#39350943)

on captain kirk's love life

Re:i think this would put a damper (1)

emmjayell (780191) | more than 2 years ago | (#39351017)

He'd be smokin hot for at least a second or two until he vaporized.

...and? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39351489)

Fine, but what's the low going to be?

...And? (1)

milkman479 (1017240) | more than 2 years ago | (#39351541)

Fine, but what's the low going to be?

Oh I know the answer to this one.. (1)

willie3204 (444890) | more than 2 years ago | (#39351707)

It's Mars, right?

Silica haze: aka dust (1)

jbeaupre (752124) | more than 2 years ago | (#39351983)

As anyone who has lived in the desert can tell you, silica haze is pretty common when the wind blows. When it settles, we don't call it snow. We call it dust.

Significant digits! PLEASE! (1)

FormOfActionBanana (966779) | more than 2 years ago | (#39353003)

What is this 9656, 1472, 1652 bullshit? COME ON. [youtube.com]

Why not:

The wind will be steady from the east at speeds approaching 3,000 m/s (6,000 mph). Daytime temperatures will average a balmy 800C (1500F), while the equatorial hot spot at 30 degrees longitude is expected to top 900C (1700F).

Re:Significant digits! PLEASE! (1)

FormOfActionBanana (966779) | more than 2 years ago | (#39353027)

This really makes me CRAZY. "Lady found a three foot alligator (0.9144 m) in her bathtub!" What the fuck is wrong with one meter in this case???

Somebody get some significant digits up in this! (1)

TangoMargarine (1617195) | more than 2 years ago | (#39353615)

Daytime temperatures will average a balmy 800C (1,472F)

Because 800C is of course precise to the degree...try 1500F instead.

Global Warming? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39353725)

Just another case of the scary liberals trying to promote their hidden global warming agenda using science and facts to come to logical conclusions.

Raining sand (1)

jouassou (1854178) | more than 2 years ago | (#39354009)

high chance of silicate snow showers

Does this mean that it's basically raining sand?

Re:Raining sand (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39355049)

It's raining sand...

Hallelujah.

Unit conversions? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39356277)

Interestingly enough, we first convert 6,000 miles per hour (with km/h here), then 800 celcius (with Fahrenheit in here)

I don't get it (1)

saveferrousoxide (2566033) | more than 2 years ago | (#39356709)

How does "a plausible scenario for this species, a high-altitude silicate haze" translate to "a high chance of silicate snow showers." "High-altitude" alone removes any connotation of "showers." Sounds more like "clouds" to me.
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