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
FEB 04, 2020
Space & Astronomy
FEB 04, 2020
What Are NASA's 'Great Observatories?'
NASA recently retired its Spitzer Space Telescope, one of four specialized space-based observatories that together made ...
MAR 24, 2020
Space & Astronomy
MAR 24, 2020
How Much Do You Know About the Solar System?
Our solar system is only one out of hundreds of stellar systems residing in the Milky Way galaxy. It’s comprised o ...
JUN 14, 2020
Space & Astronomy
JUN 14, 2020
NASA Picks Astrobotic to Deliver VIPER Rover to the Moon
NASA is no stranger to autonomous rovers. To date, the American space agency has sent four rovers to the Martian surface ...
JUN 14, 2020
Space & Astronomy
JUN 14, 2020
SpaceX Launches First Rideshare Mission with Great Success
If you’ve been following SpaceX, then you’d know that the commercial space company has been launching quite ...
JUN 16, 2020
Space & Astronomy
JUN 16, 2020
What Will it Take to Photograph a Black Hole's Photon Ring?
Just over a year ago, astronomers tapped into the power of the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), a network of eight radio t ...
JUN 29, 2020
Space & Astronomy
JUN 29, 2020
Hubble Captures the 'Flapping' of Cosmic 'Wings'
The Hubble Space Telescope continues to send us incredible images of space. It has recently captured an image involving ...
Loading Comments...