Rain, snow, sleet, and hail are common forms of precipitation. The type you’re accustomed to, and how often you see it, varies based on the climate you live in. But regardless of form, the precipitation we encounter here on Earth is made up of water.
Other planets, and moons, also experience varied forms of precipitation. Rainstorms and snowfalls that occur elsewhere in the universe are comprised of different elements than what we experience on Earth. This results in some very interesting phenomena, from ruby showers to gasoline downpours.
10 Rock Rain
First observed in February 2009, COROT-7b is an exoplanet nearly twice the size of Earth. Its density is similar to our home planet, though the conditions are not nearly as hospitable. COROT-7b lies approximately 2.5 million kilometers (1.5 million mi) from its star. For comparison, Mercury lies approximately 47 million kilometers (29 million mi) from our Sun at its nearest point.
Because of COROT-7b’s proximity to its sun, the rocky planet is gravitationally locked, with the same side always facing its parent star. The sun-facing side of the planet experiences temperatures of approximately 2,327 degrees Celsius (4,220 °F). The sweltering conditions are capable of melting and vaporizing rock, which creates the planet’s unique form of precipitation.
COROT-7b is covered in oceans and lakes of lava. The molten rock vaporizes and rises into the atmosphere, where it condenses to form rock clouds. The rock clouds rain tiny, hot pebbles back into the lava oceans. The cycle then repeats itself, similar to the water cycle on Earth.
9 Glass Rain
An exoplanet called HD 189733b was spotted by the Hubble Space Telescope in 2005. The blue giant falls into a category of exoplanets known as “hot Jupiters.” Hot Jupiters are large, gaseous planets that orbit their sun very closely, which results in extremely hot surface temperatures. HD 189733b experiences daytime temperatures of up to 930 degrees Celsius (1,700 °F). For comparison, the average temperature on Jupiter is minus 148 degrees Celsius (–234 °F).
HD 189733b is located 63 light-years from Earth. Like Earth, the planet appears blue from afar, but that is where the similarities end. HD 189733b gets its color from the fierce glass rain that whips around the planet. Wind speeds on HD 189733b reach up to seven times the speed of sound, traveling 8,700 kilometers per hour (5,400 mph). HD 189733b’s atmosphere contains clouds that are laced with silicate particles. When these high clouds release the silicate particles, the extreme heat ensures that the glass is molten, and the harsh winds cause the rain to fall sideways.