The most extreme Exoplanets ever found

Here are some of the most remarkable exoplanets found in the galaxy

As of September 2017, humans have found 3500+ planets orbiting around stars other than our own, which is a pretty remarkable number. Even more remarkable are some of the most extreme varieties found in the galaxy.

#1: A planet being eaten by its star — Wasp-12b

Imagine a planet ~2 times the size of Jupiter. Now imagine it being pulled by the extreme gravitational force of its sun making the planet egg-shaped.

The hot gas giant planet Wasp-12b compared to Jupiter. Source: NASA exoplanets
An artist’s impression of the hot gas giant Wasp-12b being devoured by its Sun. Source: NASA

In a mere 10 million years of cosmic time, the planet Wasp-12b will be completely destroyed by its sun, becoming a part of it.

#2: Planets bathed with excessive radiation — Pulsar Planets

Among the very first exoplanets to be discovered, the 3 planets PSR B1257+12 A, B and C (discovered in the 1990s) are the last places you want to look for Life. The neutron star they orbit spins around itself faster than you can blink your eye. It emits excessive radiation pulses from both its poles in the process.

An artist’s impression of the exoplanets around the radiation bathing pulsar PSR B1257+12. Source: Wikipedia

Such intense bathing of radiation from its parent star while extremely hostile to Life, creates dazzling auroras on the planets. Makes you wonder how safe the planet from Interstellar would be, bombarded by the excessive radiation from around the black hole.

#3: Rains of molten glass — HD 189733b

Look at this beautiful deep blue planet:

An artist’s impression of HD 189733 b — a Hot Jupiter orbiting its star every ~2 days. Source: Wikipedia

Very Earth-like? Not quite. This Hot Jupiter planet has winds that blow at more than 7000 km/h and is likely to have rains of molten glass, blowing sideways! In fact, the deep blue color observed is because of scattering of blue light (Rayleigh scattering) by the silicate particles in its atmosphere.

#4: A planet darker than coal — TrES-2b

The large Jupiter-sized planet TrES-2b has an atmosphere that absorbs pretty much all of the light of its sun. Reflecting less than 1% of sunlight makes it the darkest known planet around any star, darken than coal even.

An artist’s impression of the darkest known planet around any star — TrES-2b. Source: NASA

This amazing discovery was made using NASA’s Kepler telescope. The planet’s exotic atmosphere have been found to contain light-absorbing chemicals like vaporized sodium & potassium and gaseous titanium oxide, yet none of these chemicals fully explain the extreme blackness of TrES-2b. The only faint light that the planet emits is due to it being very hot, a faint red glow the result of its proximity to its sun.

#5: A planet hotter than most stars — KELT-9b

At more than 4800 degrees Celsius, KELT-9b is hotter than the surface of most stars in the Universe. The planet is even more unusual in that it orbits perpendicular to the spin axis of its star (i.e pole to pole) and nobody knows why. Imagine a planet ~3x the mass of Jupiter and bring it very close to the Sun, tilt its orbit 90 degrees and let it feel the heat:

An artist’s concept showing the planet KELT-9b orbiting its host star KELT-9. Source: Wikipedia

A polar opposite (pun intended) of this planet would be the planet named Hoth after the Star Wars ice planet. Hoth (in real life) is the coldest planet ever known at -220 degrees Celsius worth of coldness on its surface.

An artist’s impression of the coldest known planet ever found — Hoth. Source: Wikipedia

#6: Super Saturn J1407b— The largest ring system ever found

Saturn’s rings are among the most beautiful sights in the Solar System. Now imagine a planet that is at least 20 times more massive than Saturn with a ring system that is more than 200 times as large. That’s Super Saturn J1407b for you.

Artist’s conception of the giant ring system of the planet J1407b. Source: Rochester

In the image above, the rings of J1407b are shown eclipsing the young sun-like star J1407, as they would have appeared in early 2007 when the discovery was made. The rings of this planet are so huge that they stretch 180 million kilometers end to end, larger than the distance between the Earth and the Sun.

There is also expected to be a large moon of the planet which is almost the same mass as the Earth (original paper). The planet itself is so big its possible that its a brown dwarf star instead.

The galaxy is full of extreme worlds that are born to break the rules, rules that we thought were there. But the more Science we did, we found time and again that Nature finds its ways in curious ways.

So which one is your favorite? :)