Kepler’ spacecraft has discovered the darkest known planet in the universe, located 750 light years away from our solar system.
The planet is so dark that it reflects less than 1% of the sunlight falling on it. TrES-2b, as it was called, is so dark that it’s even darker than the blackest coal or any other planet or moon that we have ever discovered. It’s considerably less reflective than black paint.
TrES-2b orbits a yellow main-sequence star similar to our Sun(GSC 03549-02811) at a distance of only 4.8 million miles (comparatively, the Earth is about 150 million kilometers from the Sun). The star’s intense light heats causes temperatures more than 980 degrees Celsius on the surface of the planet..
The atmosphere of the planet is composed of vaporized sodium, potassium or titanium oxide. The temperature of the exoplanet is too high, much too hot for ammonia clouds, clouds which be able to reflect something of the radiation that reaches the planet.
However, none of these explain the extreme darkness of the planet. Davin Kipping of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics said: “I think there is, somewhere, in the planet’s atmosphere kind of strange chemistry who haven’t discovered yet, maybe these explain the planet’s extreme blackness”
As Kepler discovers more and more planets by the day, we can hopefully scan through those and work out if this is unique or if all hot Jupiters are very dark,
Maybe an appropriate nickname would be Erebus—ancient Greece’s god of darkness.