Hubble Spots Two Cloudy Exoplanets

Posted on January 1, 2014

Cloudy GJ 1214b


Astronomers using Hubble have found two cloudy exoplanets. Spectroscopic observations with NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have provided evidence that GJ 436b, located 36 light-years from Earth in the constellation Leo, and GJ 1214b, located 40 light-years away in the constellation Ophiuchus, may be blanketed with clouds. An artist's concept of GJ 1214b, a super-Earth, is pictured above. GJ 1214b was described by astronomers as a waterworld in 2012.

Astronomers led by Laura Kreidberg and Jacob Bean of the University of Chicago took a close look at GJ 1214b using Hubble. They say they found definitive evidence of high clouds blanketing the planet. The scientists say these clouds are obscuring information about the composition and behavior of the lower atmosphere and surface.

The Telegraph reports that this is the first weather forecast ever for a planet outside our solar system. The research was published here in the journal Nature.

Image: NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon (STScI)