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article imageScientists discover Jupiter-sized alien planet blacker than coal

By Andrew Moran     Aug 11, 2011 in Science
Princeton - Scientists have stumbled upon a strange alien planet located near the star GSC 03549-02811 that is approximately 750 light-years away. This planet is darker than any other moon or planet in the solar system.
Imagine a planet that only reflects less than one percent of its sunlight. Well, just when you thought the universe couldn’t get any stranger, astrophysicists have discovered a planet that is blacker than coal and is currently darker than any planet or moon known in our solar system.
The latest find, which was published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, is “truly an alien world.” The planet, that matches the size of Jupiter, has been labeled TrES-2b and orbits the star GSC 03549-02811, according to a news release. The black giant is located 750 light-years in the direction of Draco the Dragon constellation.
The gas giant does not have reflective clouds because of its high temperature – the exoplanet has temperatures reaching 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit (1,000 degrees Celsius). It is believed its atmosphere consists of either vaporized potassium and sodium or titanium oxide.
The scorching planet orbits its star at a distance of three million miles (five million kilometers).
Similar to our moon, TrES-2b is locked by gravitational tide and only one side is shown to the star. Furthermore, the planet presents varying phases during its orbit around the star.
After analyzing the data, scientists are still unsure as to why the planet is black.
“It's not clear what is responsible for making this planet so extraordinarily dark,” said David Spiegel, co-author of the research at Princeton University. “However, it's not completely pitch black. It's so hot that it emits a faint red glow, much like a burning ember or the coils on an electric stove.”
The study was conducted using NASA’s Kepler spacecraft – Kepler, which is utilized to measure brightness of faraway stars, has discovered more than 1,200 planetary candidates.
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