The Air Over There
Recently, scientists from the University of Edinburgh were using a telescope in Chile to study a planet 75 light-years away called PSO-j318.50-22, and what they found is rather remarkable. Through their observations, the scientists discovered multiple layers of thick and thin clouds that were made of hot dust and drops of molten iron (yes, molten iron). This discovery of these clouds marks the first time that weather patterns have been observed on an alien planet not in our solar system. However, it's not the first time we've ever encountered weird rain. Research indicates that it rains diamonds on Uranus and Neptune.
The latest find was made by capturing hundreds of infrared images of the planet and comparing its brightness to other neighboring bodies. The team is hopeful that these findings could improve our ability to determine if, based on our observations of weather patterns, conditions on other planets are capable of sustaining life.
An Interesting World
PSO-j318.50-22 is roughly the same size as Jupiter, but is eight times more massive. Oh, and it does not orbit a star. This beast is a rogue planet. Ultimately, the orphan world is far, far younger than our own pale blue dot. Scientists estimate that it is only some 12 million years old. If that's not enough, scientists also found that temperatures inside the planet’s clouds reach a blistering 1470°F (800°C).
Study leader Dr. Beth Biller stated in a press release that this find tells us about more than just weather on this world, "This discovery shows just how ubiquitous clouds are in planets and planet-like objects. We're working on extending this technique to giant planets around young stars, and eventually we hope to detect weather in Earth-like exoplanets that may harbour life."
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