FLUNG AROUND ITS PARENT star at 400,000km per hour, it is so close to the stellar furnace that its year lasts just 2.2 Earth-days. Flayed by solar winds, its atmosphere is stripped away and blasted into space by extreme ultraviolet and X-ray radiation at the rate of 1,000 tonnes every second.
The scorched atmosphere that survives the onslaught is rent by 1,000 degree winds laden with silicate particles, which, propelled by 7,000kph winds, become rain drops from hell propelled sideways as supersonic shards of molten glass.
Indeed, if there is one exoplanet that deserves to have the blues, it is HD 189733b (even its name is unfortunate), which is rather apt as it has become the first to have its true colour determined... and (in line with that rather laboured set-up) that colour is blue.
Located about 63 light years away, HD 189733b (which we’ll call Howlin’ Dave) is (relatively speaking) right on our cosmic doorstep. It also happens to be one of the closest extrasolar planets, or exoplanets, that can be seen crossing the face of its star – making it the most studied of all the alien planets.