A team of scientists from the University of Warwick discovered extremely strong winds of 5400 miles per hour to be moving in the atmosphere of a planet outside the solar system.
The discovery is the first time that a weather system of an exoplanet has been directly mapped and measured, researchers said.
In a report issued in the Astrophysical Journal Letters, scientists from the university's Astrophysics group measured the velocities on the two sides of the exoplanet HD 189733b, a planet that is 370 trillion miles or 63 light-years away from Earth.
Winds of 5400 mph were found to be blowing from the exoplanet's dayside to its night side. The winds in this exoplanet are gusting 20 times faster than the maximum wind speeds on Earth or approximately seven times the speed of sound, researchers said.
"Whilst we have previously known of wind on exoplanets, we have never before been able to directly measure and map a weather system," said Tom Louden, lead researcher of the study.
Louden explained the velocity of the winds in the exoplanet HD 189733b was estimated using a high resolution spectroscopy of the Sodium absorption in the exoplanet's atmosphere. They measured how fast the sodium atoms in the atmosphere absorbed radiation from its host star.
He and his colleagues took note of the Doppler Effect, or the change in frequency depending on the relative velocity of the object producing the wave. In this case, the moving object is the exoplanet HD 189733b.
As parts of the exoplanet's atmosphere swing towards or away from the Earth, he said, the Doppler Effect affects the wavelength of the Sodium absorption, allowing the velocity to be calculated.
Data suggests that the light of the exoplanet's atmosphere appears blue-shifted as it moved toward the direction of our telescopes. It appears red-shifted as it spins away from the Earth.
Meanwhile, to gather scientific data, researchers utilized the High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS) in La Silla, Chile. The team's findings will contribute to future research regarding the atmosphere of other Earth-like planets outside the solar system.
"As we develop the technique further we will be able to study wind flows in increasing detail and make weather maps of smaller planets," said Peter Wheatley, co-author of the study.
The exoplanet HD 189733b is located in the constellation Vulpecula or the "little fox" and is part of a class of planets known as "Hot Jupiters." The exoplanet is dubbed as so because it is 10 percent larger than Jupiter and has a temperature of 1800 degrees Celsius. The relative distance of the exoplanet HD 189733b to our solar system makes it a popular target for astronomical studies.