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Mysterious World Discovered Outside Solar System

First Posted: Nov 03, 2015 12:07 PM EST
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Researchers discovered strange weather patterns on a mysterious world located outside of the solar system. There were layers of clouds composed of hot dust and drops of molten iron on the planet-like object, which was found 75 light years away from Earth, according to researchers at the University of Edinburgh in the UK.

"This discovery shows just how ubiquitous clouds are in planets and planet-like objects. We're working on extending this technique to giant planets around young stars, and eventually we hope to detect weather in Earth-like exoplanets that may harbor life," said Dr. Beth Biller, lead author of the study, in a news release.

The researchers used a telescope in Chile to study the weather patterns on the distant world, known as PSO J318.5-22. The researchers estimated that the mysterious world is about 20 million years old, and it is about eight times the same size of Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system. The temperature of the clouds on PSO J318.5-22 is over 800 degrees Celsius.

The researchers took hundreds of infrared images of the planet-like object as it was rotating during a 5-hour period. The brightness of the object was compared to neighboring bodies, where the researchers found that it was covered with many layers of thick and thin clouds. This changed the brightness of the planet-like object as it rotated, according to the researchers.

The new finding will enable researchers to further investigate conditions on far-off planets, and examine if they have the potential to sustain life.

This study was published in The Astrophysical Journal.

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