Feeling the heat of an extrasolar planet | Science News



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Feeling the heat of an extrasolar planet

11:50am, October 24, 2006

Astronomers have for the first time measured the temperature variation between the lit and unlit sides of a planet outside the solar system—a difference that's, literally, night and day.

Researchers used NASA's infrared Spitzer Space Telescope, which measures the heat emitted from distant objects, to study a massive extrasolar planet that lies 40 light-years from Earth. This so-called hot Jupiter, known as Upsilon Andromedae b, orbits its parent star at only about a tenth of the distance that Mercury resides from the sun.

Joe Harrington of the University of Central Florida in Orlando and his colleagues found that the temperature difference between the icy, dark side and

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