APR 24, 2018 4:50 PM PDT

Is This One of the Darkest Exoplanets Ever Found?

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

Astronomers are always discovering new exoplanets, and each one exhibits unique characteristics that set it apart from the rest. One of the most significant characteristics that astronomers analyze after discerning an exoplanet is how reflective its visible surface is; this feature is commonly recognized in the scientific community as the exoplanet’s albedo level.

Astronomers have detected one of the darkest exoplanets ever found.

Image Credit: Pixabay

While some exoplanets reflect substantial amounts of light and appear bright to astronomers, others absorb most light and appear darker instead. On the other hand, few dark exoplanets compare to that of a recent find dubbed WASP-104b.

Citing a paper published on arXiv.org, researchers from Keele University describe WASP-104b as what could be one of the darkest exoplanets found to date. Its non-reflective atmosphere is said to absorb anywhere between 97-99% of the visible light that strikes it, putting it right on par with top contenders, like TrES-2b and HAT-P-7b, just to name a few.

“From all the dark planets I could find in the literature, this is top five-ish,” said Teo Močnik, the lead author of the paper. “I think top three.”

Related: Hubble reveals the light-absorbing qualities of a hot Jupiter-like exoplanet

WASP-104b is a hot Jupiter-like exoplanet that orbits a yellow dwarf star in a tidally-locked fashion from just 4.3 million miles away. Furthermore, its orbit is so tight that it takes only 1.75 Earth days to circle the star.

The researchers say that WASP-104b’s tidally-locked nature may contribute to its non-reflective properties. The exoplanet’s proximity to its host star makes the star-facing side too hot for clouds to exist. That said, they all coagulate on the side that doesn’t face the star, resulting in an ultra-dense atmosphere that absorbs more light than it reflects.

These particular characteristics give the researchers subtle clues about the exoplanet’s atmospheric composition. Their best guess is that it may be comprised of potassium and atomic sodium, which could give the exoplanet a purple hue. But it’s hard to be sure since we can’t image the distant exoplanet directly.

It should be interesting to see whether future observations reveal additional details about WASP-104b. But for now, astronomers will continue searching for more exoplanets.

Source: Phys.org

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
AUG 18, 2020
Space & Astronomy
First Visitor from Another Solar System Remains Unknown
AUG 18, 2020
First Visitor from Another Solar System Remains Unknown
An object hurtling through our solar system known as 'Oumuamua' is our first visitor from another solar sys ...
SEP 08, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Reusable Chinese Space Craft Lands Returns Earth
SEP 08, 2020
Reusable Chinese Space Craft Lands Returns Earth
The Chinese government has announced the safe return of a reusable spacecraft, called Chongfu Shiyong Shiyan Hangtian Qi ...
SEP 20, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Potential Signs of Life Spotted in the Clouds of Venus
SEP 20, 2020
Potential Signs of Life Spotted in the Clouds of Venus
Scientists were stunned to discover possible signs of life in the atmosphere of Venus. Their initial findings were confi ...
OCT 16, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
The "Missing" Laureate at 2020 Physics Nobel
OCT 16, 2020
The "Missing" Laureate at 2020 Physics Nobel
Last week, the science community celebrated the awarding of this year's Nobel Physics Prize to a trio of black hole ...
NOV 04, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Missing Link Between Fast Radio Bursts & Magnetars Found in Our Galaxy
NOV 04, 2020
Missing Link Between Fast Radio Bursts & Magnetars Found in Our Galaxy
A neutron star is born when a massive star dies out in a supernova, leaving its collapsed and incredibly dense core rema ...
JAN 06, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Settling the Debate Over the Age of the Universe
JAN 06, 2021
Settling the Debate Over the Age of the Universe
Astronomers have used powerful telescopes high in the Atacama desert to evaluate estimates of the age of the universe. T ...
Loading Comments...