A group of scientists found winds battering at mind-blowing speeds on remote exoplanet HD 189733b. The winds can reach speeds of 5,600 mph which is 20 times more than the speed of the fastest storm on Earth.
Scientists are also thrilled that they were able to map for the first time ever the weather system on a planet outside our solar system. But the winds that blow at 1.2 miles per second was a shock to the team.
On our planet, the fastest wind was recorded in 2006, when Cyclone Olivia triggered gusts of up to 253 mph.
Tom Louden, senior researcher involved in the study, explained that the recent weather map is the first to display weather conditions outside our solar system. Nevertheless, it is not the first time researchers learn about the presence of winds on exoplanets. It is the first time they were able to directly measure them and gain a deeper insight into such planet’s weather system.
Scientists based their weather system on measurements made by the High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher (Harps) ground telescope in Chile. Researchers had access to data on wind speeds on both sides of the exoplanet, and were able to track a strong wind that went from the planet’s lit side to its dark side.
HD 189733b, which is a Jupiter-like gas giant, is located 63 light years from our planet, or nearly 370 trillion miles away. The exoplanet is visible in the constellation Vulpecula, scientists said. The team explained how they were able to measure the speed of winds on the remote exoplanet.
They said that with use from high-resolution spectroscopy they were able to learn more about sodium levels in the planet’s atmosphere. In fact they used the same effect used in CT scans – the Doppler Effect. Researchers explained that the effect alters the wavelength of sodium absorption as the parts of the planet’s atmosphere move closer or farther from Earth. This is how they were able to measure the velocity of winds on the exoplanet.
Louden added that they combined data on changes in sodium absorption with the data on the blocked light coming from the planet’s star when the planet transits its disc. The amount of light coming into contact with different regions of the atmosphere differs.
The team was able to create a velocity map after they were able to measure wind speeds from opposite sides of the exoplanet. Researchers plant to use the investigative method on other exoplanets as well including Earth-like ones.