Thursday, May 08, 2008
First Map of a Planet Outside Our Solar System
The above map comes from World Science and it is the first map of a planet outside our solar system. HD 189733b is slightly larger than Jupiter and about sixty-three light years away. The map was taken with infrared technology that allowed for it to be mapped even though it is neigh-on impoosible to see because of its proximity to its star.
The map shows a giant hot spot not directly under the star's focus. Researchers believe the spot is the hottest location because of the intense winds on the planet.
With mapping of distant planets (gas giants now, hopefully rocky planets later) now is an excellent time for physical geographers to apply their environmental and geological knowledge in aid of astronomical studies. Remember, it is just geography on another planet.