Maps reveal clouds on distant exoplanet

Astronomers chart the atmosphere of Kepler-7b

By Ashley Yeager, 15:40 PM October 1, 2013

On the gaseous exoplanet Kepler-7b, the forecast calls for clear skies in the east and high clouds in the west.

Although crude, the weather maps may be the first to identify clouds on a planet outside the solar system. In the future, a similar technique could help astronomers study clouds on Earth-like exoplanets.

While tracking light reflecting from the planet, astronomer Brice-Olivier Demory of MIT and colleagues found a particularly bright spot in Kepler-7b’s western hemisphere. The planet, ...

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