Here on Earth people tend to get frustrated if the meteorologist is off by a few degrees, or they misinterpret the timing of some showers or thunderstorms. That job, compared to the one a group of astronomers and scientists took on, in attempting to predict and analyze the daily weather patterns on distant exoplanets. NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope gave an assist the scientists, which is what provided a vast majority of the data that was used in actually making the determinations that the team made throughout the process.
The team utilized the data that was collected via the Kepler Space Telescope and analyzed the weather patterns on alien planets that revolved around stars other than our sun. Across the board, the findings were both spectacular and extreme. The team pointed out that most of the exoplanets they studied were incredibly hot, and massive compared to Earth. Some of the temperatures they recorded were in excess of 2,900 degrees Fahrenheit.
Lisa Esteves, the lead author of the study – and a candidate at the University of Toronto pointed out that, “We determined the weather on these alien worlds … by measuring changes as the planets circle their host stars, and identifying the day-night cycle,” explaining the process they went through, and some of the teams findings. She went on to point out in the same statement that, “We traced each of them going through a cycle of phases in which different portions of the planet are illuminated by its star, from fully lit to completely dark.”
As far as specifics go in terms of the weather on some of these planets, Esteves pointed out that, “As the winds continue to transport the clouds to the day side, they heat up and dissipate, leaving the afternoon sky cloud-free. These winds also push the hot air eastward from the meridian, where it is the middle of the day, resulting in higher temperatures in the afternoon.”
Ray Jayawardhana of York University, who was the study’s co-author, said “Someday soon we hope to be talking about weather reports for alien worlds not much bigger than Earth, and to be making comparisons with our home planet.” Ultimately, this is where science is headed, and this is how scientists are going to learn more about the worlds outside of our own backyard. For those on Earth though, there would be some irony in being able to accurately, or near-accurately predict the weather on exoplanets so far away, while still coming up short on accurately predicting the weather here on our home planet Earth.