Episode for August 29th, 2023 Download

Today, we are going to visit TrES-2b, a planet that is so dark that it reflects less than one percent of the sunlight falling on it. How can a planet be so black? What makes it glow like a burning ember? And what kind of weather does it have? Let’s find out.

This planet was discovered in August 2006 by the Trans-Atlantic Exoplanet Survey. It became the very first planet observed by the Kepler Space Telescope with the designation Kepler-1b.

Kepler-1b is a gas giant that is slightly larger than Jupiter and has one and a half times its mass, but orbits much closer to its star than Mercury does to our Sun. It takes only 2.5 days to complete one orbit, meaning that its year is very short. It also rotates synchronously with its star, meaning that one side always faces the star and the other side always faces away. This creates a huge temperature difference between the day and night sides, which can reach up to 1,500 degrees Celsius.

The star that Kepler-1b orbits is located about 700 light-years away from Earth in the constellation of Draco. It is a yellow dwarf star that is slightly smaller and cooler than our Sun, but still very bright. In fact, you can see it with the naked eye from Earth if you know where to look. It is part of a binary system, meaning that it has another star orbiting around it at a distance of about 50 astronomical units. This is equivalent to the distance between the Sun and Pluto.

So, why is TrES-2b so dark? Astronomers are not entirely sure, but they have some theories. One possibility is that the planet has a thick atmosphere that contains molecules that absorb light very efficiently, such as titanium oxide or sodium. Another possibility is that the planet has a layer of clouds that are made of graphite or other carbon-based materials that reflect very little light. Either way, the result is that Kepler-1b appears almost black in visible light, making it one of the darkest objects in our galaxy.

But Kepler-1b is not completely dark. Because it is so hot, it emits infrared radiation that can be detected by telescopes. In fact, it glows like a burning ember or the coils on an electric stove. This means that if you could see it in infrared light, it would look very different from how it looks in visible light. It would also have some color variations depending on the temperature and composition of its atmosphere.

Another interesting feature of Kepler-1b is its weather. Because of the extreme temperature difference between its day and night sides, the planet has very strong winds that blow at over 7,000 km/h, creating a supersonic shock wave on its trailing hemisphere. This shock wave compresses and heats up the gas behind it, creating a hot spot on the night side of the planet.

Kepler-1b is one of the most mysterious and extreme exoplanets ever discovered. It is a planet of eternal night. Astronomers believe that with air as hot as lava, this world may be giving off an eerie red glow as you float in the burning atmosphere.