An effect called “glory” is observed for the first time on a distant exoplanet

Astronomers have observed for the first time on an exoplanet a phenomenon known as glory. It looks like a rainbow and consists of concentric rings of different colors. Previously, this was seen only on Earth and Venus.

Glory is on the planet WASP-76b. Source:

Glory is on a distant planet

For the first time, scientists have found signs of an effect known as glory outside the Solar System. This radiance is in the form of multicolored concentric circles, which can only be observed under certain conditions. Its existence is indicated by data from the sensitive ESA Cheops satellite, which studies exoplanets, as well as several other space missions.

This phenomenon is not so easy to observe, but it is directed towards the Earth. Glory is observed against the background of clouds in the hellish atmosphere of the super-hot gas giant WASP-76b, located 637 light-years away from us. So far, this effect, which is often observed on Earth, has only been detected once on another planet, Venus.

If the discovery is confirmed, it will be the first proven case of glory outside the Solar System. This will help to learn more about the nature of the mysterious exoplanet, as well as provide interesting lessons for a better understanding of strange, distant worlds. 

“There’s a reason no glory has been seen before outside our solar system—it requires very peculiar conditions,” explains Olivier Demangeon, an astronomer at the Institute of Astrophysics and Space Sciences in Portugal and the lead author of the study.

About the planet WASP-76b

WASP-76b is an extremely hot planet similar to Jupiter. Although it is 10% less massive than our striped neighbor, it is twice as large in diameter. Orbiting tightly around its star twelve times closer than the scorched Mercury orbits the Sun, this world is “inflated” by intense radiation. 

Since its discovery in 2013, WASP-76b has come under close observation by scientists who have found out how similar it is to hell. One side of this world always faces its star and the temperature on it reaches 2400°C. Here, substances that could form rocks on Earth melt and evaporate, and then condense on the slightly cooler night side, creating iron clouds pouring molten iron rain. However, scientists were puzzled by the obvious asymmetry between the “evening” and “morning” edges, which is clearly visible when the planet passes between us and its star. 

Cheops intensely observed WASP-76b as it passed in front of and around its sun-like star. After 23 observations over three years, the data showed a surprising increase in the amount of light coming from the planet’s eastern terminator — the boundary where night meets day. This allowed scientists to disentangle and constrain the origin of the signal. 

How does this phenomenon occur

Although the glory effect creates rainbow-like patterns, they are not the same thing. A rainbow is formed when sunlight passes through a medium with a certain density into a medium with another density, for example, from air to water, which causes it to bend (refract). Waves of different lengths are bent by different amounts, as a result of which white light splits into different colors and forms the familiar circular arc of the rainbow.

Radiance is formed when light passes between narrow openings, for example, between water droplets in clouds or fog. Besides, the path of light is bent (in this case diffracted), most often creating concentric colored rings, and interference between light waves creates patterns of bright and dark rings.

According to

Follow us on Twitter to get the most interesting space news in time