For thousands of years, astronomers had only the planets of our solar system to study; even those were difficult to look at and analyze properly. The first planets were discovered through the strange movement they exhibited in the night sky, different to the other stars. Greeks first referred to these irregular stars as wanderers, as translated from the old Greek word ‘planan’.
The incredibly complex nature of planetary systems were first hinted at when Galileo looked at Jupiter through a telescope and noticed that celestial bodies orbited the gas giant, discovering what would eventually be referred to as the Galilean satellites. Fast forward a bit and you realize that it was just in 1994 that the first planet outside of our solar system was discovered.
Since that discovery, at least 1,888 more exoplanets have been revealed, leading to a revolution in the way scientists understand planetary formation. Obviously, technology advancements are the key factor to all that progress. Here are the top 10 mysteriou planets, that we know of!
10. Gliese 581C
Similar to other planets that are tidally-locked, Gliese 581C is forced to face one way as it orbits its red dwarf star. This means that the side facing the star is scorching hot while the dark side is constantly frozen. Scientists speculate that a portion of Gliese 581C is habitable – in fact, this planet is believed to be the best candidate for human expansion.
9. HD 106906 b
This charming planet hangs out in the Crux constellation, approximately 300 light years from the Earth. Over 11 times bigger than Jupiter, this “Super-Jupiter” class planet is a discovery that confounds modern astronomers. Despite its immense size, the planet orbits its star at a distance 20 times greater than the space between the Sun and Neptune, which is about 60,000,000,000 miles, making it one of the loneliest known planets in the universe.
Close to the size of Jupiter, located about 750 light years away in orbit of a sun-like star, TrES-2b is a planet that absorbs so much light that scientists consider it the darkest planet in the known universe. Despite the fact that it’s a Jupiter-class gas giant, it reflects less than 1 percent of the light that strikes the planet, compared to a reflection rate of around 33% for Jupiter.
7. Planet Methuselah
Planet Methuselah – also known as PSR 1620-26 b – is so old that it defies traditional astrophysical models. Traditionally, it was thought that a planet can’t be 13 billion years old because of a lack of materials that planets needed to form during that time in the universe. Methuselah is nearly triple the age of Earth and was likely formed only one billion years after the Big Bang.
6. Planet Osiris
The first exoplanet discovered in transit of its orbiting star, Osiris, otherwise known as HD 209458b, is located 150 light years away in the constellation of Pegasus. About 30% larger than Jupiter with an orbit that’s one-eighth the distance of Mercury from the Sun, the temperature of this planet is around 1,832 degrees Fahrenheit. Osiris stunned astronomers and astrophysics experts when hydrogen, oxygen and carbon were detected rushing away from the planet, leading to an entire new type of planet classification, referred to as chthonian.
CoRoT-7b was the first rocky planet discovered in orbit of another star. Astronomers believe it used to be a giant gas planet similar to Saturn or Neptune, before its layers of atmosphere and gas were stripped away because of the planet’s close proximity to a star. Due to the fact that the planet is tidally-locked, the part of CoRoT-7b that faces the star is 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit while the dark side of the planet reaches temperatures as frigid as 350F.
A recent discovery by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, HAT-P-1 is a gas giant half the size of Jupiter that weighs roughly the same as a ball of cork. This incredibly odd planet has caused an uproar in the halls of academic astronomy because it’s classified as a “hot Jupiter” planet that’s nearly 25% larger than models estimate.
3. 55 Cancri e
A “Super-Earth” class planet that’s roughly twice the size of Earth with temperatures that reach 3,900 degrees Fahrenheit, 55 Cancri e was discovered in 2004. After years of observation, astronomers believe that this big, rocky planet is made mostly of carbon that turned into diamond and graphite. According to the current market value of diamond, this would make 55 Cancri e worth a total of $26.9 nonillion dollars, which is about 384 quintillion times more than the Earth’s paltry GDP of around 74 trillion USD.
2. J1407 b
Discovered in 2012 with its data only recently compiled and submitted for publication, planet J1407 b is located 400 light years from Earth and boasts a system of planetary rings that are 200 times bigger than the ones orbiting Saturn. The Saturnian ring system of J1407 b is so large that if Saturn had a ring system of similar size, it would dominate the Earth’s sky and appear much larger than the full moon.
1. Gliese 436 b
Another crazy planet classified under the Gliese catalogue of nearby stars, Gliese 436 b is roughly the size of Neptune. It’s about 20 times larger than the Earth, but orbits only 4.3 million miles from its star. The resulting temperature on Gliese 436 b is a consistent 822 degrees Fahrenheit; oddly enough, the ice that exists on the planet is kept together by immense gravitational forces. which revent it from melting and eventually evaporating.