MEXICO: Astronomers have noticed winds at speed of 5,400 miles per hour on exoplanets HD 189733b. In a first of its kind weather system check on an exoplanet outside our solar system, researchers from the University of Warwick found that the wind speeds on HD 189733b were nearly 20 times more than the fastest ever recorded on our planet.
Lead researcher Tom Louden from the University of Warwick informed that using the data collected by the High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher (Harps) telescope in La Silla, Chile, they have been able to ascertain the wind speed on the exoplanet. Complete details of the research project have been published in the latest issue of The Astronomical Journal Letters.
HD 189733b is among the most studied class of exoplanets called ‘Hot Jupiters’. Expolanet HD 189733b is nearly 10 percent larger than Jupiter. It is 180 times closer to its star. Astronomers estimate that HD 189733b has temperature higher than 1800 degree centigrade.
Discovered on the exoplanet HD 189733b, the Warwick researchers measured the velocities on the two sides of HD 189733b and found a strong wind moving at over 5400mph blowing from its dayside to its night side. Mr Louden explains:
“HD 189733b’s velocity was measured using high resolution spectroscopy of the Sodium absorption featured in its atmosphere. As parts of HD 189733b’s atmosphere move towards or away from the Earth the Doppler effect changes the wavelength of this feature, which allows the velocity to be measured”.
The researchers say that the techniques used could help the study of Earth-like planets. Co-researcher, Dr Peter Wheatley of the University of Warwick’s Astrophysics Group explains:
“We are tremendously excited to have found a way to map weather systems on distant planets. As we develop the technique further we will be able to study wind flows in increasing detail and make weather maps of smaller planets. Ultimately this technique will allow us to image the weather systems on Earth-like planets. ”
HD 189733b is one of the most studied of a class of planets known as ‘Hot Jupiters’. At over 10% larger than Jupiter, but 180x closer to its star, HD 189733b has a temperature of 1800’C. Its size and relatively closeness to our solar system make it a popular target for astronomers. Past research has shown that the day side of the planet would appear a bright shade of blue to the human eye, probably due to clouds of silicate particles high in its atmosphere.
The researchers believe the techniques used could help the study of Earth-like planets. Their findings are published in the the Astronomical Journal Letters.