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.

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