Earth has nothing on this exoplanet’s lightning storms | Science News

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How Bizarre

Earth has nothing on this exoplanet’s lightning storms

HAT-P-11b has some intense electric weather

By
7:00am, May 13, 2016
lightning storm

EXOPLANET SPARKS Lightning storms on Earth (shown) pale in comparison to those speculated to occur on HAT-P-11b, a planet 124 light-years away.

Hair standing on end during a thunderstorm is a bad sign — it means lightning is on the way. On exoplanet HAT-P-11b, though, static hair might be the least of your worries. A barrage of lightning striking 530 times as often per square kilometer as storms in the United States could be the cause of a surge of radio waves detected from the planet several years ago, Gabriella Hodosán of the University of St. Andrews in Scotland and colleagues suggest online April 23 in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

In 2009, astronomers recorded radio waves coming from the HAT-P-11 system that ceased when the planet slipped behind its star, suggesting the planet was the source of the signal. A second look in 2010 found no radio waves.  

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