Top 10 Spitzer Nebula Stunners
During follow-up infrared studies by Spitzer, the temperature of the structure could be gauged. Spitzer deduced that Kepler-7b's atmosphere is between 1,100 and 1,300 Kelvin (1,500 and 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit), much cooler than would be expected for an atmosphere of a planet that orbits so close to its star.
"Kepler-7b reflects much more light than most giant planets we've found, which we attribute to clouds in the upper atmosphere," said Thomas Barclay, Kepler scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. "Unlike those on Earth, the cloud patterns on this planet do not seem to change much over time - it has a remarkably stable climate."
Stable it may be, but the atmospheric conditions on Kepler-7b are hellish - hot with (likely) powerful global winds driven by a star only 0.06 AU (6 percent of the Earth-sun distance) away.
ANALYSIS: Spitzer Spots Protostar's ‘Crystal Rain'
This study is an exciting glimpse into the possible future of observing and characterizing exoplanets; particularly smaller, Earth-sized worlds that possess temperate environments possibly habitable to life as we know it. Detecting cloud and other atmospheric features of small alien worlds will help us understand the frequency of true "Eath-like" planets.