Deep Blue Planet Uninhabitable And Deadly: What Gives HD 189733b Its Color? [VIDEO]

By Staff Reporter on July 11, 2013 6:27 PM EDT

deep blue planet
A deep blue planet captured by Hubble telescope (Photo: M. Kornmesser, NASA/ESA)

A deep blue planet with visual features very similar to Earth has been discovered by the Hubble space telescope. A remarkable planet located 63 lightyears away (that's 372 billion miles), the HD 189733b is as massive as Jupiter and possesses 13 percent more mass. the deep blue planet HD 189733b is one of more than 800 exoplanets, planets that orbit stars outside our solar system, discovered within the last two decades. The large deep blue planet was discovered in 2005.

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Despite possessing the same tones as planet Earth's oceans, the deep blue planet is too hot to have water at all. In fact, studies gathered from the Hubble space telescope suggests the dark blue planet HD 189733b possesses cloud temperatures as high as 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit. What's more, the deep blue planet orbits very close to its star and boasts winds as strong as 4,350 mph. The planet HD 189733b circles around its stars once every 2.2 days.

"We saw the brightness of the whole system drop in the blue part of the spectrum when the planet passed behind its star," said Astrophysical Journal Letters, led by University of Oxford's Tom Evans. "From this, we can gather that the planet is blue, because the signal remained constant."

If the deep blue color of the planet is not water, what is it? An international team of astronomers believe the blue hue comes from the planet's clouds. The team believes the blue is caused by a hazy atmosphere rich with melting glass particles that scatter light in the blue color spectrum.

"Our best guess is that the color is due to a combination of reflection by silicate clouds and absorption by sodium atoms," astronomer Frederic Pont, with the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom.

"Other factors may be photochemical aerosols -- i.e. smog -- and absorption by other atoms or molecules than sodium," though presently are no specific candidates," Pont adds.

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