Skip to main content

Blue-colored planet that rains glass uncovered by NASA's Hubble space telescope

Blue-colored planet that rains glass uncovered by NASA's Hubble space telescope

Share this story

Blue planet HD 189733b (Credit: NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon/STScI)
Blue planet HD 189733b (Credit: NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon/STScI)

Earth is often referred to as the "blue planet," or "pale blue dot," due of course to the abundance of liquid water on its surface (about 70 percent is covered by water). But now astronomers have found another blue planet, and on this world, instead of water, it likely rains glass — and sideways at that, thanks to the planet's unfathomably strong 4,500 mile-per-hour winds. The gigantic, Jupiter-sized planet, designated HD 189733b, was actually first discovered by French astronomers in 2005. But recent observations made with NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have revealed far more fascinating details about its surface conditions and the color of its atmosphere.

4,500-mile-per-hour winds

Hubble is equipped with a specific instrument called a spectrograph that performs a prism-like effect (the light separating glass object, not the NSA program). The instrument is capable of distinguishing 500-different points in one exposure, so it's able to drill down into a faraway planet's atmosphere. In this case, Hubble's spectrograph recorded the light reflected off this planet as it passed behind its parent star, revealing that it scattered the color cobalt blue.

The color comes not from water like the blue hue here on Earth, but in this case, the planet's atmosphere. That atmosphere is basically "blow-torched," according to NASA, thanks to the planet's extremely close orbit to its parent star (2.9 million miles), and high surface temperature (around 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit). The atmosphere contains particles of silicate, the most abundant class of minerals on Earth, which scientists believe condense into glass on this planet, a result of the extreme heat. The glass then causes additional reflection of the blue color. Still, scientists have much to learn about this alternate blue world. "We obviously don't know much on the physics and climatology of silicate clouds, so we are exploring a new domain of atmospheric physics," said UK astronomer Frederic Pont, one of the scientists behind the new findings. The details appear in a paper published online today in the The Astrophysical Journal letters.

Today’s Storystream

Feed refreshed 5:33 PM UTC Striking out

Andrew Webster5:33 PM UTC
Look at this Thing.

At its Tudum event today, Netflix showed off a new clip from the Tim Burton series Wednesday, which focused on a very important character: the sentient hand known as Thing. The full series starts streaming on November 23rd.

The Verge
Andrew Webster4:28 PM UTC
Get ready for some Netflix news.

At 1PM ET today Netflix is streaming its second annual Tudum event, where you can expect to hear news about and see trailers from its biggest franchises, including The Witcher and Bridgerton. I’ll be covering the event live alongside my colleague Charles Pulliam-Moore, and you can also watch along at the link below. There will be lots of expected names during the stream, but I have my fingers crossed for a new season of Hemlock Grove.

Andrew Webster1:05 PM UTC
Looking for something to do this weekend?

Why not hang out on the couch playing video games and watching TV. It’s a good time for it, with intriguing recent releases like Return to Monkey Island, Session: Skate Sim, and the Star Wars spinoff Andor. Or you could check out some of the new anime on Netflix, including Thermae Romae Novae (pictured below), which is my personal favorite time-traveling story about bathing.

A screenshot from the Netflix anime Thermae Romae Novae.
Thermae Romae Novae.
Image: Netflix
Jay PetersSep 23
Twitch’s creators SVP is leaving the company.

Constance Knight, Twitch’s senior vice president of global creators, is leaving for a new opportunity, according to Bloomberg’s Cecilia D’Anastasio. Knight shared her departure with staff on the same day Twitch announced impending cuts to how much its biggest streamers will earn from subscriptions.

Tom WarrenSep 23
Has the Windows 11 2022 Update made your gaming PC stutter?

Nvidia GPU owners have been complaining of stuttering and poor frame rates with the latest Windows 11 update, but thankfully there’s a fix. Nvidia has identified an issue with its GeForce Experience overlay and the Windows 11 2022 Update (22H2). A fix is available in beta from Nvidia’s website.

External Link
If you’re using crash detection on the iPhone 14, invest in a really good phone mount.

Motorcycle owner Douglas Sonders has a cautionary tale in Jalopnik today about the iPhone 14’s new crash detection feature. He was riding his LiveWire One motorcycle down the West Side Highway at about 60 mph when he hit a bump, causing his iPhone 14 Pro Max to fly off its handlebar mount. Soon after, his girlfriend and parents received text messages that he had been in a horrible accident, causing several hours of panic. The phone even called the police, all because it fell off the handlebars. All thanks to crash detection.

Riding a motorcycle is very dangerous, and the last thing anyone needs is to think their loved one was in a horrible crash when they weren’t. This is obviously an edge case, but it makes me wonder what other sort of false positives we see as more phones adopt this technology.

External Link
Ford is running out of its own Blue Oval badges.

Running out of semiconductors is one thing, but running out of your own iconic nameplates is just downright brutal. The Wall Street Journal reports badge and nameplate shortages are impacting the automaker's popular F-series pickup lineup, delaying deliveries and causing general chaos.

Some executives are even proposing a 3D printing workaround, but they didn’t feel like the substitutes would clear the bar. All in all, it's been a dreadful summer of supply chain setbacks for Ford, leading the company to reorganize its org chart to bring some sort of relief.

Spain’s Transports Urbans de Sabadell has La Bussí.

Once again, the US has fallen behind in transportation — call it the Bussí gap. A hole in our infrastructure, if you will.

External Link
Jay PetersSep 23
Doing more with less (extravagant holiday parties).

Sundar Pichai addressed employees’ questions about Google’s spending changes at an all-hands this week, according to CNBC.

“Maybe you were planning on hiring six more people but maybe you are going to have to do with four and how are you going to make that happen?” Pichai sent a memo to workers in July about a hiring slowdown.

In the all-hands, Google’s head of finance also asked staff to try not to go “over the top” for holiday parties.