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Pitch black: The mystery of a darkest planet ever seen

Darkest planet ever discovered is a gas giant but reflects only 1 percent of the light falling on it. Scientists speculate an unknown chemical or gas is absorbing light.

The distant exoplanet TrES-2b, shown here in an artist's conception, reflects less than one percent of the light that falls on it, making it blacker than any planet or moon in our solar system.
CREDIT:

David A. Aguilar (CfA)/Space.com

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An alien world blacker than coal, the darkest planet known, has been discovered in the galaxy.

The world in question is a giant the size of Jupiter known as TrES-2b. NASA's Kepler spacecraft detected it lurking around the yellow sun-like star GSC 03549-02811 some 750 light years away in the direction of the constellation Draco.

The researchers found this gas giant reflects less than 1 percent of the sunlight falling on it, making it darker than any planet or moon seen up to now. [The Strangest Alien Planets]

"It's just ridiculous how dark this planet is, how alien it is compared to anything we have in our solar system," study lead-author David Kipping, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, told SPACE.com. "It's darker than the blackest lump of coal, than dark acrylic paint you might paint with. It's bizarre how this huge planet became so absorbent of all the light that hits it."

Whereas Jupiter has clouds streaking it white and red, reflecting more than a third of the sunlight reaching it, TrES-2b apparently lacks reflective clouds, super-heated as its atmosphere is to more than 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit (980 degrees Celsius) by a star just 3.1 million miles (5 million kilometers) away from it.

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