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Spin cycle: astronomers detect distant planet that whirls madly

Published on May 1, 2014 1:59 AM

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - Are you the type of person who gets dizzy just watching a merry-go-round go round and round? If so, don't plan a visit to the planet known as Beta Pictoris b. The thing spins like mad.

Scientists said on Wednesday that for the first time, they have measured the spin of a planet outside our solar system - a large gas planet located a relatively close 63 light years from Earth.

They determined that the planet spins faster than any in our solar system, with a rotational velocity at its equator of almost 100,000 kph.

Jupiter, a large gas planet that has the quickest spin in our solar system, whirls at about 47,000 kph while Earth spins at about 1,700 kph. A day on Beta Pictoris b lasts only eight hours, compared to 10 hours for Jupiter and 24 hours for Earth.

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