Clouds of ru­bies and sap­phires light up

Science Illustrated - - SPACE | PLANETS -

The cloud cover on the HAT-P-7 b ex­o­planet con­tains the min­eral build­ing blocks of sap­phires and ru­bies.

1,040 light years from Earth, you will find the sparkling HAT-P-7 b ex­o­planet, com­plete with clouds of ru­bies and sap­phires, ac­cord­ing to as­tronomers, who have stud­ied the light re­flected from the planet.

The at­mos­phere con­tains the alu­minium ox­ide min­eral, also known as corun­dum in its crys­tal-line form, which forms the ba­sis of sap­phires and ru­bies. In 2016, sci­en­tists from the Univer­sity of War­wick in the UK used the Ke­pler space tele­scope to prove that both clouds and vi­o­lent storms are prob­a­bly very com­mon on the planet. The weather is caused by the “cold” night side air of about 1,900°C meet­ing the warmer day side air of up to 2,500°C. The tem­per­a­ture dif­fer­ence oc­curs, be­cause the gas gi­ant or­bits in a close, bound ro­ta­tion, mean­ing that the same side is al­ways fac­ing the hot host star.

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