- Education and Science
Top 10 Most Amazing Planets
The universe is just like what it looks like: dark, vast and full of secrets. It has so many components, amazing components in fact. One of those components are the planets; so many and so unique.
I have always been fascinated by the space and the planets; always wondering what other planets look like. Well, if you're into planets too then this is the right place to be because here is the list of 10 of many amazing planets: from a planet worth $26.9 Nonillion to the planet which doesn't even belong to our galaxy!
1. TrES-2b: The darkest planet of all
Planet TrES-2b, located about 450 light years from Earth is a pitch black planet. It is the darkest planet known to exist. This is because it reflects <1% of the light that hits it, i.e it reflects less light than coal or black acrylic paint. This makes this planet darker than coal! It is not known yet for sure what causes this planet to absorb that much light, but according to scientists the abundance of gaseous sodium and titanium oxide in its atmosphere might be a cause. Although scientists also believe that we might find something exotic there that we've never found before, which might be a cause.
The light that is absorbed by this planet super-heats this planet (up to 1100 degree Celsius) so much so that it makes this planet glow red.
Like black was not scary enough, it's got a dull red glow too. It's definitely something that I would call a devil's planet!
2. 55 Cancri e: The diamond planet!
Now this planet 55 Cancri e, located about 40 light years away from the Earth is worth $26.9 Nonillion!! To give an idea: 1 nonillion means 1 followed by 30 zeros (in U.S)!! Why? Because this planet is entirely made up of diamonds! It's literally a huge diamond.
55 Cancri e is a carbon planet that means it has more carbon than oxygen. The carbon forming the planet and the high temperature and pressure offered by it's star, Cancri 55, resulted in the formation of a huge diamond, which is twice the size of Earth. The surface of this planet is likely to be covered with graphite and diamond.
Don't just pack your bags to settle down in 55 Cancri e because this planet has a low oxygen content, no water at all and a temperature of 3,900 degrees Fahrenheit which makes this planet inhabitable for life forms.
Another interesting fact about this planet is that its star, 55 Cancri, is visible to the naked eyes in the night sky in the constellation of Cancer, even though it's located at 40 light years from Earth.
3. HD189733b: The planet where rain kills!
Planet HD 189733b is situated 63 light years from Earth in the constellation of Vulpecula. It's another "blue planet", but for a totally different reason than why Earth is a blue planet. The blue colour in the atmosphere of this planet comes from the constant rain of molten glass! It rains glass constantly in Planet HD 189733b, that too sideways!
The temperature of this planet during day time is very high (around 1000 degree Celsius) because of the short distance of the planet from its sun. But there is a dramatic fluctuation in the temperature at night time. These temperatures results in the condensation of the silicon particles into droplets, which then fly all over the planet, sideways, with the wind, which has speed of whooping 4000 mph (7000 km per hour)!
It looks beautiful; like a giant marble, but it sure ain't friendly to life.
4. Gliese 436b: The ice planet on fire!
Next is a Neptune sized planet, known as planet Gliese 436 b, located about 30 light years from Earth in the constellation of Leo. This planet defies the laws of chemistry. Planet Gliese 436 b is located 15x closer to its star, Gliese 436, than Mercury from sun, and has a temperature of 439 degree Celsius. What makes this planet interesting is that despite being under such high temperature this planet manages to stay frozen! This phenomenon is known as "Hot Ice". Now, remember in Chemistry class we read that water evaporates at 100 degree Celsius? So what's happening? Why this planet is still solid ice? No, what we studied in school is not wrong, but there is an interesting factor that's in action on this planet which makes water stay in ice form even under such high temperature.
That factor is the gravitational pull of this planet. The gravity of this planet is so strong that it pulls back the molecules as soon as it escape from the surface and keep them compressed in solid form; preventing the water molecules from ever evaporating.
This sure is one of my personal favorites!
5. WASP 12b: The planet slowly being eaten up by it's own star
Located around 800 light years from Earth in the constellation of Auriga is planet WASP 12b. This gas giant is the hottest planet ever discovered with a temperature of 2,200 degree Celsius, which is half as hot as the Sun's photosphere!
This planet revolves around its sun, WASP 12, at a very close distance (2.1 million miles), which is 1/44th of the distance between Earth and Sun. It is so less that it takes only a little more than 24 (Earth) hours to complete one revolution. The short distance results in the ridiculously high temperature of this planet. This temperature is so high that it's stripping away WASP 12b's mass, destroying this planet. WASP 12b is losing about 6 billion tons of mass per second, which makes about 189 quadrillion tonnes of mass per year! The combined action of high temperature and the tidal force of the star WASP 12 has even distorted the shape of the planet; from sphere to egg-shaped.
This planet is originally the size of Jupiter but the high temperatures and the tidal force have resulted this planet to balloon up, making the planet 3 times the size of Jupiter!
NASA has estimated that WASP 12b has only about 10 million years more to live before it's completely eaten up by its star.
Oh, poor "puffed-up" planet.
6. HIP 13044b: The planet from another galaxy!
Scientists have discovered hundreds of planets over the years but this is first one that originated in another galaxy!
Orbiting an extragalactic star, HIP 13044, this planet is located about 2000 light years away in the constellation of Fornax. The star HIP 13044 is nearing its death and soon might eat up this planet as it grows old. It is a part of the "Helmi stream", which is a group of stars that originally belonged to a dwarf galaxy that was later captured by our galaxy (The Milky Way) in an act of galactic cannibalism about 6-9 billion years ago.
Artist’s impression of the slightly elliptical orbit of HIP 13044 b, resulting from the expansion of its star
Now this planet is not only an alien planet in our galaxy but also a survivor! HIP 13044b is one of the few planets that have known to survive the "red giant phase" of a star, which is the period in the star's evolution- the formation of "red giant"- when the star expands massively after using up the hydrogen fuel in its core. Now the star HIP 13044 is using its core's helium fuel.
It is believed that there were more (inner) sister planets to this planet, but they were destroyed when the star expanded. And although this planet survived the first expansion, it might not survive the expansion in the next stage of evolution. So after all, it will ultimately be destroyed. And so will be the fate of the planets in our solar system in a few billion years as the Sun is also expected to become a red giant in about five billion years.
7. Gliese 581 c: The planet likely to support life
Located about 20.3 light years from Earth in the direction of constellation of Libra, with a mass 5.5 times the Earth is planet Gliese 581c.
This planet is special because it's one of the planets that's likely to support life. But wait, that's not the only interesting thing about this planet. Gliese 581c orbits a red dwarf star, so the sky would always be a deep crimson colour. It is also tidally locked with its star, which means one side of this planet always faces towards its star and the other always facing away. The side which always faces the star is so immensely hot that it would melt you alive, and the one which faces away from the star is so cold that you'll freeze.
Wondering how such a planet could support life?? Now here comes the miracle land. There is a narrow belt of land, halfway from its hot and cold side, which has the perfect temperatures to have life.
Just make sure you do not step on the wrong side!
8. HD 188753 Ab: The planet with triple star system
Planet HD 188753 Ab, located about 151 light years away is another unique planet. The amazing thing about this planet is that it has got, not one, not two, but three stars! It is the first planet ever found to reside in a triple-star system. If we could live in this planet we would experience triple shadows, triple sunsets, triple sunrises and constant eclipses as the three parent stars crossed each other's path!
Confused? This is how the stars and the planet orbits around each other.
This planet orbits its star in 3 days, and that star is orbited by two more stars every 25 years and those two stars have a tango like orbit cycle that completes in 156 days! Confusing enough?
Before the discovery of this planet our scientists had no clue about whether planets can form such gravitationally complex systems.
Imagine watching triple sunsets. What a spectacular scene it must be!
9. Planet J1407 b: The "Saturn on Steroids"
About 420 light years away from Earth lies Planet J1407 b, also referred as "a Saturn on steroids" or " Super Saturn". This planet made it's way to this list; thanks to the huge system of rings around it. Now you'd ask what's so special about the ring? It's not a new concept for a planet to have rings. Our own Saturn has huge rings, spreading 282,000 km across (175,000 miles)! Saturn and its rings would just fit in the distance between Earth and Moon. That's huge right? It is, but not as big as Planet J107 b. This planet here has rings with a radius of approximately 90 million km!! Whooping huge isn't it? It is so huge that it blocks the light coming from its star J1407 causing frequent eclipses which lasts for weeks! It has a total of 37 rings, each of them is tens of millions of kilometers in diameter.
Scientist do not yet know how this 16 million year old planet managed to get this huge circumplanetary ring system.
The rings of this planet is so huge that if Saturn's rings were this big they would dominate the sky and would appear much larger than a full moon!
And you thought rings of Saturn were great.
10. HAT-P-1: The planet with the density of cork!
The last but certainly not the least is planet Hat-P-1, another planet that baffled the scientific community. A gas giant, located 453 light years away from Earth in the constellation of Lacerta, planet Hat-P-1, is the "puffiest" planet ever discovered.
It's 1.38 times the radius of Jupiter, but despite being larger than Jupiter, it's only half its mass! It's one-quarter the density of water and about the density of a giant ball of cork. That means it would literally float in water!
The only condition being; to find a water source large enough.
So, let's see which one is your favorite!
The universe is not only stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine.