A thousand light years away, there's a planet with clouds made of rubies

Not a ruby from HAT-P-7b. But something like it. Picture: Getty Images

Fans of the works of Douglas Adams will be familiar with the notion that in an infinite universe, anything is possible. It’s just a matter of how long you’re prepared to look for it.

So a team from the University of Warwick looked though four years of data from the Kepler satellite and found a planet 1000 light years away with clouds made of gemstones.

They knew it had clouds because the brightness of the planet, HAT-P-7b, changed over time. They knew it was 40 per cent bigger than Jupiter and that it orbited its sun every two days, without spinning on its own axis, like Earth.

That meant the surface of HAT-P-7b would reach up to 1927C on its day side, far too hot for your regular Earth clouds.

But on the cooler night side, clouds would condense and the wind created between the two extremes would blow them around the planet, and evaporate as they stretched into the day side.

For the clouds to even exist in such heat, and based on their boiling point, scientists say the most likely explanation is that they are made of something incredibly hard – like corundum.

You might know corundum as a transparent rock-forming mineral which, when it picks up impurities, it can change to reds. In other words, rubies.

“When we say clouds, they’re definitely not clouds like on the Earth,” David Armstrong from UW told New Scientist.

It’s not quite an entire planet made of diamond, but impressive nonetheless.

You can read more about the planet with ruby clouds here.

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