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Darkest exoplanet recently discovered by astronomers

by Julia
August 16, 2011 at 8:00 am

A planet that is as black as coal and the size of Jupiter has recently been discovered by astronomers.

The planet is orbiting its star at a distance of only five million kilometers and it is estimated that the surface temperature reaches 1,200 degrees Celsius.

Astronomers cannot explain the darkness of the planet as it may be too hot to support reflective clouds, like those in our Solar System.

Since it was fist spotted by the Trans-Atlantic Exoplanet Survey in 2006 the planet was called TrES-2b. It is about 750 light years away from Earth in the Draco constellation.

Also, TrES-2b is in sight of the Kepler space telescope, whose primary mission is the discovery of exoplanets (planets outside the Solar System) using highly sensitive brightness measurements to detect these planets when their stars pass in front of their host stars.

Using data collected by Kepler in the first four months of research, David Kipping of the Center for Astrophysics at Harvard University and David Spiegel from Princeton University analyzed the amount of light coming directly from TrES-2b.

Kipping and Spiegel measured the amount of light from the dark side of the planet (when the planet is directly in front of stars) and compared it with the light coming from its “day side”. The difference between the two measurements provided information about how much light the planet reflects.

Jupiter’s clouds reflect 52% of the amount of light received from the Sun and the Earth reflects only 37%. Instead, TrES-2b reflects only 1% of the amount of light received from the star around which it orbits.

The space telescope Kepler is scheduled to provide more research data on 22 September.

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