Cloudy with a Chance of Acid

SCIENCE

After cataloging nearly a thousand worlds beyond our solar system, astronomers can now for the first time forecast cloudy skies on a distant exoplanet. (National Geographic News)

Use our resources to better understand planets—from out-of-this-world to the one you’re on.

Planets like Kepler-7b (left) are nicknamed "hot Jupiters" because they share characteristics with the largest planet in our solar system (right), but have a much higher surface temperature. Kepler-7b's temperature is about 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit (1,300 Kelvin). Jupiter's temperature is about -234 degrees Fahrenheit (125 Kelvin). Image courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech/MIT

Planets like Kepler-7b (left) are nicknamed “hot Jupiters” because they share characteristics with the largest planet in our solar system (right), but have a much higher surface temperature. Kepler-7b’s temperature is about 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit (1,300 Kelvin). Jupiter’s temperature is about -234 degrees Fahrenheit (125 Kelvin).
Image courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech/MIT

Discussion Ideas

  • Why do you think Kepler-7b is so much hotter than Jupiter, even though it shares so many other characteristics with the gas giant?
    • Kepler-7b is much, much closer to its parent star, Kepler-7, than Jupiter is to the sun. In fact, Kepler-7b is much, much closer to Kepler-7 than the Earth is to the sun! In fact, Kepler-7b is much, much closer to Kepler-7 than Mercury—our innermost planet—is to the sun!
    • A good measure of this distance can be seen by tracking the planets’ orbits, or how long they take to circle their parent star. A “year” on Kepler-7b is just under 7 days, according to the NG News blog. A “year” on Jupiter, however, is more than 11 (Earth-defined) years!

NASA, come back, we miss you!

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