Black Planet

Hubble hat einen kohlrabenschwarzen Planeten entdeckt und er heisst dabei auch noch „Wasp“. Würde ich ja hinfliegen, so 'nen schwarzen Planeten würde ich mir schon gerne mal aus der Nähe ansehen, aber das Teil ist nicht nur ziemlich schwarz, sondern auch ziemlich heiß. Naja.

Discover-Mag: This Exoplanet Is Burning Hot and Pitch Black

Wasp-12b orbits around a Sun-like star some 1,400 light-years away. It makes a complete orbit around its sun in just 24 hours because it lies so close to its star, and the proximity pushes the temperature to around 4,700 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s so hot that molecules there are broken down into atomic hydrogen and helium, and the extreme conditions give it an albedo of just .064, making the planet’s atmosphere even darker than asphalt.

The main reason for this, say researchers from McGill University and the University of Exeter, is the absence of clouds on the tidally-locked planet’s day side. Condensation is normally quite reflective, but the sun-facing side of the planet is too hot for any to form. Instead, the light it receives from its star penetrates deep into the planet’s interior, where it is absorbed by the atmosphere. The planet is so close to its star, in fact, that it’s stretched into an oval by gravity, and is likely being slowly torn apart.

The findings, published last week in the Astrophysical Journal Letters, come thanks to an imaging technique only applied once before to gas giants. The researchers used Hubble to grab pictures of Wasp-12b while it was eclipsed by its star, meaning that light fell on the planet head-on. They determined the planet’s albedo by monitoring variations in the star’s light, an indication of how much was reflected.