Exoplanets are planets orbiting stars outside our solar system – they can be beautiful Earth-like environments or worlds called ‘hell planets’ because of their rough surfaces. You’ll find everything from diamond planets to frozen planets. Planets are so close to their stars that their matter explodes every second, and the planets are so far from the Sun that we still don’t know how they exist. Some planets wander in the darkness of our Universe, while others have such long ages that a year in their world is the equivalent of 900 000 years in ours. So far, we have over 4000 confirmed exoplanets, 2 724 potential exoplanet candidates, and 2 783 planetary systems (stars with confirmed planets). I’ve compiled a list of the wildest and most terrifying of these planets. And don’t forget to check out the first part of this blog!
Kepler-1b: The Darkest Planet in The Universe
Kepler-1b is one of the strangest planets in the Universe. It is located about 450 light-years away and, at the moment, is the darkest planet in the Cosmos. It is a gas giant (larger than Jupiter), but its main characteristic is that it reflects less than 1% of the light it receives from its star, making it darker than carbon itself. Astronomers do not understand how this is possible. In addition, by not reflecting light and reaching scorching temperatures, a red halo envelops the planet, making it more typical of science fiction.
Corot-7b: Planet Hell
Corot-7b is known as the “planet hell” and has earned this title on its own merits. It is so close to its star that all its gases were evaporated, leaving only the rocky core. Temperatures on its surface reach 2,600 ° C on the part facing the star, while in part “at night” temperatures drop to hundreds of degrees below zero.
Gliese 436b: The Planet of Ice and Flames
Can you imagine a planet covered by an ice sheet that is continuously on fire? It seems like a fantasy, but it is totally real. Gliese 436b is an icy inferno and undoubtedly one of the strangest planets in the Universe. It is located just over 30 light-years away and was the first exoplanet in which water was confirmed, although it was not in the way that was expected. Despite having an average temperature of 439 ºC, there is ice, which, by the way, is always on fire. According to astronomers, solid ice at these temperatures is only possible if there is immense gravity on the planet.
Kepler 438b: Our New Home?
The discovery of this planet in 2015 was a true revolution. It was even baptized like “the second Earth”. And it is that Kepler 438b meets, in theory, with all the conditions to be habitable. Making such a discovery, bearing in mind that meeting these conditions is highly unlikely and that we can only detect an almost zero portion of exoplanets, is unheard of. Anyway, it is 470 light-years away, so the journey would take us millions of years with the technology we have today.
55 Cancri e: The Diamond Planet
55 Cancri e is one of the rarest planets in the Universe. One-third of its composition is pure diamonds; yes, you read that RIGHT! It is also composed of carbon subjected to very high pressures and temperatures; its mass has become diamond. Considering that its size is twice that of the Earth, the value of the diamond on this planet would be 27 quintillion dollars, although if we could take it to our home, the diamond would be the cheapest product in the world.
HAT-P-7b: The Planet Where Sapphires Rain
HAT-P-7b, located more than 1,000 light-years from Earth, is not only one of the most distant exoplanets known but one of the most incredible and strangest planets out there. And it’s all because of the incredibly high pressures and precipitations of corundum produced, which are in simpler terms: sapphires and rubies. When “raining”, these precious stones shape the surface of this planet that seems to be taken from a fantasy novel.
Kepler 7b: The Planet Ten Times Less Dense Than Water
Kepler 7b goes against everything we know about physics. And it is that technically, this planet should not exist. It is twice the size of Jupiter but weighs half. That means that it has a density of fewer than 0.2 grams for each cubic centimeter. Water has a density of 1 gram per cubic centimetre. In other words, a cubic centimeter of a planet weighs almost ten times less than a cubic centimeter of water. Now, isn’t that AMAZING?
Do you want to know more about the weirdest planets in the Universe? Stay tuned for the third part!