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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Hot & Fast

That's how a planet HD80606b lives:
In just six hours, this planet four times the size of Jupiter heats up by more than 1,200 degrees, according to a study published in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature.

"It's the first observation of changing weather" on a planet outside our solar system, said study author Gregory Laughlin, an astronomy professor at the University of California at Santa Cruz. [...]

When it comes closest to its star, it becomes one giant "brewing storm" complete with shock waves, Laughlin said. The radiation bombarding the planet is 800 times stronger than when it is farthest away.

Then just as quickly, the planet slingshots away and radiates the heat to the cool vacuum of space. It glows cherry red and the temperature plummets, Laughlin said.

"Utterly bizarre," he said. "It is thoroughly completely uninhabitable. In a galaxy of uninhabitable planets, this one stands out as being completely inhospitable to life."
Hmmmm... For some reason it struck me as a bit arrogant to call a world "thoroughly completely uninhabitable" just because it isn't comfy and cozy for any life form we're familiar with. What was the line from Jurassic Park?
Henry Wu: You're implying that a group composed entirely of female animals will... breed?

Dr. Ian Malcolm: No, I'm simply saying that life, uh... finds a way.

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