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09.30.13

Partially Cloudy Skies on Kepler-7b

Kepler-7b (left), which is 1.5 times the radius of Jupiter (right), is the first exoplanet to have its clouds mapped. The cloud map was produced using data from NASA's Kepler and Spitzer space telescopes.

The map shows that clouds cover the western side of the gaseous planet, leaving the east cloud-free. Researchers speculate the clouds are made up of minerals containing silicates.

Kepler-7b is one of the puffiest, or least dense, planets known. While it is 1.5 times the size of Jupiter is has only about half the mass.