Alien planet seen being battered by 5,400mph winds in first weather map outside our solar system ever

The wind travels seven times faster than the speed of sound

Emma Henderson@Emmalouisehendy
Sunday 15 November 2015 14:25
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This artist's concept shows exoplanet HD 189733b orbiting its yellow-orange star, HD 189733.
This artist's concept shows exoplanet HD 189733b orbiting its yellow-orange star, HD 189733.

Winds of up to 5,400mph have been discovered around an alien planet, after scientists produced the first ever weather map outside our solar system.

Researchers from the University of Warwick found winds that were 20 times faster than anything ever recorded on Earth.

The wind was found on a planet named HD 189733b. Located 63 light years from Earth, it is one of the most studied planets in a group known as “Hot Jupiters”.

The winds were recorded travelling at 2km per second - around seven times faster than the speed of sound. They blow around the planet's equator, from the heated day side of the planet to the night side.

Lead researcher Tom Louden, from the University of Warwick’s astrophysics group, said: “Whilst we have previously known of wind on exoplanets, we have never before been able to directly measure and map a weather system.”

The planet is 10 per cent larger than Jupiter, but is 180 times closer to its star. Its size and its relative closeness to our solar system makes it popular with astronomers for research.

Co-researcher, Dr Peter Wheatley says: “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.”

Scientists hope these measuring techniques can be used to study the weather on other planets that are similar to Earth.

The measurements were made with the help of Harps telescope in La Silla, Chile.

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