Click to see a larger image (CREDIT: David A. Aguilar, CFA)

 

File this one with the rest of the perplexing discoveries made by scientists… Astronomers have found a strange exoplanet that’s located about 750 light years from Earth (in the Draco constellation). This hot-Jupiter exoplanet reflects less than 1% of the sunlight that hits it, making it significantly darker than coal and almost as dark as the darkest man-made substance on Earth, which was manufactured by NASA. This particular substance absorbs 99% of the light that hits it at optical, ultraviolet and infrared wavelengths.

 

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The planet, TrES-2b, orbits its parent star 30 times closer to it than Earth is to our Sun, heating its atmosphere to a blistering temperature close to 1,800 Fahrenheit (980 degrees Celsius). Scientists aren’t sure what’s causing the planet to be so dark, but they suspect that the chemical composition of its atmosphere contains some light-absorbing chemicals like vaporized sodium, potassium or titanium oxide. For Jupiter, the largest of the gas giants in our solar system, it contains bright clouds of ammonia that reflect more than 1/3 of the sunlight that reaches its atmosphere, where TrES-2b lacks any sort of reflective clouds in its atmosphere due to its temperature and extreme proximity to its parent star. However, the presence of these chemicals aren’t enough to explain the extreme darkness. Astronomers believe something on the planet is absorbing the sunlight instead of reflecting it as per usual. What that substance is is still a point of contention, but whatever it may be, it isn’t “of Earth.”

 

Despite its extreme darkness, it isn’t without some color. Due to the temperatures on the planet, it emits a glowing red color. Much like the burning embers in a fire place or electric stove. Is anyone else up for some interstellar marshmallows? Anyone?


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