Astronomers are looking at the sky in hope of finding life, but on their way, they also discover the weirdest planets out there.
…and our list of five weirdest planets starts with:
Artist’s rendition of a transit of GJ 1214 b in blue light. The blue sphere represents the host star GJ 1214, and the black ball in front of it on the right is GJ 1214 b. Image Credit: NAOJ
The ground-based MEarth Project discovered GJ 1214b in 2009. It is a super-Earth water world.
This planet is 2.6 times Earth’s diameter and weighs almost seven times as much. A huge fraction of its mass is made up of water and has a thick, steamy atmosphere.
It orbits a red-dwarf star every 38 hours at a distance of 2 million kilometers, giving it an estimated temperature of 230 degrees Celsius.
Zachory Berta of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics said: “The high temperatures and high pressures would form exotic materials like ‘hot ice’ or ‘superfluid water,’ substances that are completely alien to our everyday experience.”
WASP-12b is the hottest ever exoplanet discovered with an average temperature of 2250 degrees Celsius.The reason that this planet is a burning one, is because it orbits just 2,115,000 miles from its host star. In comparison, Earth orbits the sun at 44 times this distance.As a result, it takes just over a day to orbit the star, compared to a year for us.
Jupiter in comparison with Wasp-17b. Wikimedia.
SuperWASP planetary transit survey discovered WASP-17b. A weird fact about it is that it’s the first planet discovered that orbits in a direction counter to the rotation of its host star.
The planet is the puffiest one and the second-largest exoplanet discovered yet but still at half Jupiter’s mass.
Image Credit: NASA
HD 188753 became the first known planet to reside in a “triple star system”.
Just imagine how spectacular the sky view would be from this planet, with a beautiful triple sunset.
“Before now, we had no clues about whether planets could form in such gravitationally complex systems,” said Dr. Maciej Konacki from the California Institute of Technology.
Image Credit: Lynette Cook
Gliese 581c made it to the front-page headlines when the University of California (UC) Santa Cruz, and the Carnegie Institution of Washington announced it in 2007.
The good news is that the planet lies in a habitable zone but the bad one is that Gliese 581c is “tidally-locked” which means that one side always faces its host star. So either you freeze in one side or burn in the other.