Clouds blanket the night side of the hot exoplanet WASP-43b

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High temperatures and extreme wind speeds influence the chemistry inside the planet’s atmosphere.

An artist’s impression of the hot Jupiter WASP-43b closely orbiting its pa
An artist’s impression of the hot Jupiter WASP-43b closely orbiting its parent star. The planet’s tight orbit resulted in its rotation period becoming synchronized with the orbital period, both amounting to 19.5 hours. As a result, WASP-43b always faces the star with the same hemisphere permanently engulfed in daylight with temperatures reaching 1250 degrees Celsius. The nightside facing away from the star is covered by clouds made of condensed mineral droplets at temperatures around 600 degrees. © T. Müller (MPIA/HdA)
Using the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), a team of astronomers, including scientists from MPIA, constructed a global temperature map of the hot, gas giant exoplanet WASP-43b. The nearby parent star perpetually illuminates one hemisphere, raising temperatures to a blistering 1250 degrees Celsius. Meanwhile, eternal night shrouds the opposite side. Violent winds transport the searing hot air to the nightside, where it cools to 600 degrees, allowing clouds to form and blanket the entire hemisphere. These tempests impair chemical reactions so much that methane can barely form, even though it should be abundant under calmer conditions. ...
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