Thursday, May 01, 2014

Alien Planet's 'Day' Clocked for 1st Time

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Alien Planet's 'Day' Clocked for 1st Time
This artist’s view shows the planet orbiting the young star Beta Pictoris. This exoplanet is the first to have its rotation rate measured. Its eight-hour day corresponds to an equatorial rotation speed of 100,000 kilometers/hour — much faster than any planet in the Solar System.

By Mike Wall

      Astronomers have measured the rotation rate of an alien planet for the first time ever, finding that a huge Jupiter-like world called Beta Pictoris b has a day lasting just eight hours.

The equator of Beta Pictoris b, a gas giant about 10 times more massive than Jupiter, is moving at about 62,000 mph (100,000 km/h), researchers said — far faster than that of any planet in our solar system. In fact, Beta Pictoris b is the fastest-spinning planet yet seen.

In comparison, Jupiter's equator is traveling at about 29,000 mph (47,000 km/h), while Earth's is moving at just 1,060 mph (1,700 km/h). Days on these two familiar planets last about 10 hours and 24 hours, respectively. . . .

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