Astronomers Find Planet With 8-Hour Day

Beta Pictoris b is a milestone discovery for scientists
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 30, 2014 5:13 PM CDT

(Newser) – If the 9-to-5 grind leaves you feeling like your day is shot, be thankful you're not living on the planet Beta Pictoris b. Scientists have calculated that its entire day is only eight hours long, reports the Los Angeles Times. The reason is that the gas giant's equator is spinning at about 62,000mph, reports Space.com, compared with 29,000mph for Jupiter and our own pokey 1,060mph. Beta Pictoris b is spinning much faster than any planet in our solar system and is the fastest spotted to date anywhere.

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The discovery is a milestone in that it's the first time astronomers have figured out the rotation rate of an alien planet, reports Red Orbit. Beta Pictoris b is relatively young at 20 million years old, relatively mammoth with 10 times the mass of Jupiter, and relatively close at about 63 light-years away. The exoplanet is also really hot, and the Bad Astronomy blog at Slate notes that it will cool and shrink as it ages. "That will spin it up even faster, like an ice skater spins faster when she brings her arms in," writes Phil Plait. "In a few hundred million years, Beta Pic b may have a day only three hours long." (Click to read about another space milestone, the discovery of a new Saturn moon.)

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