It really is raining diamonds on Jupiter, as actor Jaden Smith was so keen to point out, but in reality, that small tidbit is but a single gem in a treasure trove of weird space weather facts. Envision a place where temperatures are so hot that they melt fool’s gold on towering mountain tops, a destination where storms rage on for centuries, and gemstone covered glaciers glide across the surface. Can you take the heat of a 900-degree-Farenheit planet? Do you know of the gas storms that happen every time a star dies? Can you imagine a place that storms so many magnetized crystals that you can see its surface glow for actual light years?
These occurrences are far from fiction. They’re a description of some of the wackiest weather in outer space. These climates are hostile to say the least, but there’s a chance that, somewhere out there, some microorganism sees this weather as just a regular aspect of their environment.
Could it be that someone lives out there in the eye of a great space storm? We study space weather so thoroughly because it is one of the keys to finding out if we are, in fact, alone in the universe, or if we have... shall we say, company. Here’s a look at the zaniest intergalactic climates we’ve come across so far and what they say about those endless possibilities.
It Rains Gemstones On Several Planets, Making Them Treasure Troves In Space
So it turns out that it really does rain diamonds on Jupiter; however, diamond storms aren't restricted to that planet alone. Diamond showers are extremely common in outer space. In fact, NASA JL representative Kevin Baines told BBC News that it rains about 2.2 million pounds of diamonds in space every year.
How do diamond rainstorms happen? Well, the lightning on other planets converts methane gas into carbon, and, when that carbon hardens, it eventually takes on the form of a diamond. What makes Jupiter (and notably Saturn) different is their sheer inability to melt the hard constructs of the gemstones. For this reason, it is suspected that the aforementioned planets might have diamond oceans flowing and diamond glaciers gliding through their atmosphere, making them possible treasure troves for future space pirates. It gets stranger...
Planet Vesta, the second largest minor planet on the asteroid belt, is believed to be covered in magnetized crystals that make it glow in such a way that it can sometimes even be seen from Earth. Meanwhile, 1,350 light years from our dull-in-comparison planet, emerald peridots fall from the stars in the constellation Orion. Is it any wonder that the mysteries of the universe are literally hidden gems?
Exoplanet HD 189773B Is Raining Horizontal Glass Shards–Yikes!
The next time you gape through the hole of a telescope, keep your eyes peeled for the cerulean celestial body that gets its indescribably beautiful blue hue from its rain. As it turns out, this exoplanet is raining horizontal glass shards at a rate of 4,349 miles per hour. As this glass pours from the sky at unfathomable speeds, the light reflection makes the planet look like it is covered in water. What a terrifyingly deceptive space storm.
The Sky Explodes On 900-Degree Venus
The atmosphere on Venus is 100 times denser than the atmosphere on Earth. If you were to visit Venus, the air around you would be so stiff that you would feel like you were moving through an ocean rather than maneuvering over a solid surface. What's most bewildering, though, is that the pressure of the everyday air on Venus is comparable to or even exceeds the pressure Earth-dwelling deep sea divers experience when they reach the lowest depths humanly possible in the ocean. This hostile atmosphere keeps Venus burning at approximately 900°F, a temperature so hot that the sky itself explodes from time to time.
A 5,592-Mile-Wide Storm Sweeps Over Otherwise Inactive Uranus
Stormy skies could mean brighter days are ahead for Uranus, a previously inactive planet. Over the past couple of years, unexpected storms have made this planet active again, and they apparently did so without the help of the Sun, which wasn’t even thought possible until just now. In 1999, Uranus broke records and news with its 1,300-mile, -300-degree-Farenheit storm that revealed something very special about the planet: its clouds are brighter than any other planet’s clouds within the solar system. Today, it is making even more headlines with a massive storm almost five times bigger than the last.