The Spitzer Space Telescope takes infrared images in space. The artistic representation shows the telescope before such a shot. Graphic: NASA / JPL-Caltech
Read aloud On a planet of light that is 200 light-years away from Earth, extreme temperature fluctuations prevail: within six hours, the planet heats up by 700 degrees, and when its orbit brings it close to its sun, astronomers have observed. Just before that, the planet moved just past the star, allowing the researchers to measure its exact size and brightness, and use it to calculate the exact temperatures. The researchers used this data for a computer simulation of the climate on the planet. The planet is called HD80606b, based on the name of its parent star HD80606. The planet weighs four times as much as Jupiter. He orbits his star in 111 days and moves away from him partially at the same distance that the earth has to the sun. On the other side of the orbit, however, it gets closer to its central star as Mercury approaches the Sun. The researchers observed him there with the Spitzer Space Telescope and discovered that the planet is heated from about 500 degrees Celsius to about 1, 200 degrees Celsius in just six hours at the point of closest approach. Shortly before that point, the planet just behind Earth, seen from Earth, gave the researchers this precise measurement.

HD80606b belongs to the planetary class of the "Hot Jupiters". These are very big planets that are very close to their sun. Previous findings on the climate on such planets are quite patchy, the researchers write. Therefore, the exact temperature data of HD80606b be a godsend. They used this data for a new computer model to simulate and better understand the dynamics of the atmosphere and the temperature distributions on the planet.

Gregory Laughlin (University of California, Santa Cruz) et al .: Nature (Vol. 457, p. 562, DOI: 10.1038 / nature07649) ddp / science.de? Martin Rötzschke

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