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Whirling Dervish: Fastest-Spinning Exoplanet Beta Pictoris b Explained (Infographic)

Diagram of day length on various planets.
On Beta Pictoris b, a planet still forming nearly 64 light-years away, a day lasts only 8.1 hours. (Image credit: By Karl Tate, Infographics Artist)

Planets acquire their rotation when they are formed, taking angular momentum from the impacts that shape them. There is a relationship between the mass of a planet and the speed of its spin, except where tidal forces have decelerated planets and made their days longer.

Main Story: Length of Alien Planet's 'Day' Clocked for First Time, an 8-hour World

Exoplanet Beta Pictoris b is the fastest-spinning known planet.

Beta Pictoris b in Pictures: An Alien Planet Image Gallery

At between 8 million and 20 million years old, the Beta Pictoris system, 63.4 light-years away, is still in its formative stage. Young planets are still accreting as planetesimals collide in the debris disk that surrounds the star.

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Karl Tate
Karl's association with SPACE.com goes back to 2000, when he was hired to produce interactive Flash graphics. Starting in 2010, Karl has been TechMediaNetwork's infographics specialist across all editorial properties.  Before joining SPACE.com, Karl spent 11 years at the New York headquarters of The Associated Press, creating  news graphics for use around the world in newspapers and on the web.  He has a degree in graphic design from Louisiana State University. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Karl on Google+.