An alien world blacker than coal

As of now, 573 exoplanets, planets in other solar systems, have been confirmed so far, with many more awaiting confirmation. A wide variety have been found already, and now there is another odd one to add to the list.

Artist's conception. Credit: David A. Aguilar (CfA)

TrES-2b is a gas giant, about the size of Jupiter, and orbits the star GSC 03549-02811 which is about 750 light-years away. What makes TrES-2b interesting is that it reflects back less than 1% of the light that reaches it from its star; it is literally blacker than coal. It orbits its star at a distance of only about 4.8 million kilometres (3 million miles), with a surface temperature of about 982 degrees C (1,800 degrees F), and its atmosphere of vaporized sodium and potassium, or gaseous titanium oxide, absorbs light instead of reflecting it. There are no ammonia clouds, like on Jupiter for example, to reflect back more of the light.

With thousands more exoplanets expected to be confirmed in the near future, what other exotic types will be found? Or, as also expected, ones more similar to our own Earth? The possibilities might be almost limitless…