December 11, 2007
At about 1,300 degrees Fahrenheit (700 degrees Celsius), the distant planet HD 189733b isn't likely to be a popular vacation destination. But if people could survive on the steamy world, they'd enjoy one heck of a sunset.
That's the latest finding from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope
, which revealed that the extrasolar world HD 189733b actually has a hazy atmosphere similar to that of Venus. The planet, seen above in an artist's conception, is a gas giant in close orbit around its parent star, which sits 63 light-years away from Earth.
Although HD 189733b is too distant to see directly with current technology, instruments on Hubble were able to measure the planet's spectrum as it passed in front of its host star. What they found is a thick veil of tiny particles that would make the steamy world's atmosphere look like a brilliant red sunset, astronomers say.
"HD 189733b is the first extrasolar planet for which we are piecing together a complete idea of what it really looks like," team leader Fridiric Point of Geneva University Observatory in Switzerland said in a press statement.
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Image courtesy ESA/NASA/Fridiric Pont/Geneva University Observatory