Posted by admin on September 20, 2012 Dark alien planet discovered by NASA
are unsure what causes the planet to be so dark, but they believe it
could be ‘a chemical we haven’t even thought of yet.’
Fri, Aug 12 2011 at 10:25 AM EST
An alien world blacker than coal, the darkest planet known, has been discovered in the galaxy.
The world in question is a giant the size of Jupiter known as TrES-2b. NASA’s Kepler spacecraft detected
it lurking around the yellow sun-like star GSC 03549-02811 some 750
lightyears away in the direction of the constellation Draco.
researchers found this gas giant reflects less than 1 percent of the
sunlight falling on it, making it darker than any planet or moon seen up
to now. [The Strangest Alien Planets]
just ridiculous how dark this planet is, how alien it is compared to
anything we have in our solar system,” study lead-author David Kipping,
an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, told
SPACE.com. “It’s darker than the blackest lump of coal, than dark
acrylic paint you might paint with. It’s bizarre how this huge planet
became so absorbent of all the light that hits it.”
Whereas Jupiter has clouds streaking
it white and red, reflecting more than a third of the sunlight reaching
it, TrES-2b apparently lacks reflective clouds, super-heated as its
atmosphere is to more than 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit (980 degrees
Celsius) by a star just 3.1 million miles (5 million kilometers) away
it’s not completely pitch black,” co-author David Spiegel of Princeton
University said in a statement. “It’s so hot that it emits a faint red
glow, much like a burning ember or the coils on an electric stove.”
researchers propose that light-absorbing chemicals such as vaporized
sodium and potassium or gaseous titanium oxide in the planet’s
atmosphere could help explain why it is so dark. Still, none of these
can fully explain why the world is as stealthily cloaked as it is.
a mystery as to what’s causing it to be so dark,” Kipping said.
“There’s a good chance it’s a chemical we haven’t even thought of yet.”
astronomers think TrES-2b is tidally locked like our moon, such that one
side of the planet always faces the star. This would lead it to change
phases as it orbits its star just as our moon waxes and wanes from new
to crescent to full, causing the total brightness of the star plus the
planet to vary slightly over time.
combining the impressive precision from Kepler with observations of over
50 orbits, we detected the smallest-ever change in brightness from an
exoplanet — just 6 parts per million,” said Kipping. “In other words,
Kepler was able to directly detect visible light coming from the planet
extremely small fluctuations in light proved that TrES-2b is incredibly
dark. A more reflective world would have shown larger brightness
variations as its phase changed.
Read the rest of the article here: MNN
Thanks to: http://extraterrestrials.ning.com