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← 5 Amazing Exoplanets! - The Countdown #33

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Showing Revision 9 created 11/26/2014 by Ariana Bleau Lugo.

  1. There's another new planet
    outside our solar system? Yawn...
  2. Since 2010 we found
    about 100 new exoplanets a year
  3. and as the list grows
  4. these discoveries seem
    less and less interesting.
  5. To help exoplanets get their groove back,
  6. we looked for the coolest,
    weirdest and most extreme.
  7. I'm Sophie and welcome to The Countdown.
  8. Our Earth is a blue planet
    where it rains water.
  9. HD 189773b is a blue planet
    where it reins glass.
  10. Sideways!
  11. Earlier this year
    the Hubble space telescope
  12. detected a blue exoplanet
    63 light years from our own.
  13. The hue of HD 189773b
    is darker than Earth's
  14. and the difference don't end there.
  15. The exoplanet is a gas giant like Jupiter
  16. and it's much closer to its sun.
  17. This boosts the average temperature
    to a scorching 1000 degrees Celsius,
  18. but on the dark side of the planet
  19. it can be hundreds of degrees cooler
    than the sunny side.
  20. This change in temperature creates
    enormous turbulence in the atmosphere,
  21. winds up to 7000 Km/h
    toss around particles of silicate,
  22. the material that makes up sand,
  23. and they may form grains of glass
  24. as they rain sideways
    through their extreme environement,
  25. reflecting the star light and providing
    their planet's dark blue colour.
  26. If glass doesn't impress you,
  27. perhaps you prefer more sparkling material
  28. like diamonds!
  29. 55 Cancri-e is a rocky world
    called a Super Earth,
  30. twice as large as our own planet,
  31. with 8 times as much mass
  32. and, according to a 2012 study,
  33. the planet contains a layer
    of graphite and diamond
  34. just below the surface.
  35. Beneath that mixture,
    there is an even thicker layer
  36. containing mostly pure diamond.
  37. Altogether these materials make up
    1/3 of the exoplanet's mass.
  38. But before you decide to travel 40
    light years to the glittery super earth,
  39. check out some more recent research.
  40. A new paper found
    the ratio of carbon to oxygen
  41. in the host star is lower than expected.
  42. If the planet's makeup
    resembles its parent star
  43. it won't have the carbon
    needed to make up diamonds.
  44. So much for my dreams
    of a celestial jewelry store.
  45. If we travel even farther away from Earth,
  46. things get even more backwards.
    Literally.
  47. More than 1000 light years away
  48. the planet HAT-P-7b is orbiting its star
    in the wrong direction.
  49. Most planets orbit in the same direction
    that their host star spins,
  50. but in 2008 astronomers discovered
    an exoplanet the size as Jupiter
  51. traveling in the opposite direction.
  52. The backwards motion
    remained a mystery until last year
  53. when researchers detected
    a second star and an outer planet
  54. in the same system as HAT-P-7b.
  55. The gravity of these neighbours
    could be responsible
  56. for the exoplanet's unusual orbit.
  57. According to the study, the companion star
  58. tugs on the newly discovered outer planet
  59. tilting its orbit.
  60. This tilt then affects
    the orbit of HAT-P-7b.
  61. If the researchers are correct,
  62. their theory could also explain
    unusual orbits in other systems.
  63. Earth has a hefty 4.5 billion years
    under its belt
  64. but that's nothing compared
    to the oldest known exoplanet
  65. PSRB1620-26b, more comfortably known
    as the Methuselah Planet
  66. is a whopping 13 billion years old
  67. which means that formed less than
    a billion years after the Big Bang
  68. Methuselah orbits a binary system
    made up of a pulsar and a white dwarf.
  69. According to a 2003 study,
    it's probably a gas giant,
  70. two and a half times as massive as Jupiter
  71. But when it was first discovered in 1994
  72. Scientists thought it was a small star.
  73. In the type of ancient star collection
    when Methuselah lives,
  74. it was considered impossible
    for planets to form.
  75. This exoplanet is located
    thousands of light years from Earth
  76. in a so called globular cluster.
  77. Astronomers used to think
    globular clusters
  78. didn't have enough heavy elements
    to make planets,
  79. but Methuselah proves planets
    are hardier than expected,
  80. capable of forming early in the
    Universe's history from limited materials.
  81. Reflected light makes exoplanets visible
  82. and give Earth its blue hue
  83. but 750 light years from our pale blue dot
  84. there's a pitch black world
  85. that reflects
    only 1% of the light hitting it.
  86. [Star Wars' Imperial March]
  87. No, it's not the Death Star.
    It's a real planet.
  88. And as of 2012 is the darkest planet
    we've ever discovered.
  89. And we're not sure why.
  90. If you saw TrES-2b up close
    it would be blacker than coal
  91. but with a slight red glow.
  92. It orbits close enough to its star
    to heat up to a toasty 980º Celsius.
  93. But when it passes in front of that star
  94. it doesn't significantly dim the light.
  95. Computer models suggest
    Hot Jupiters like TrES-2b
  96. shouldn't be any darker than Mercury
  97. which shines 10 times brighter.
  98. How does this exoplanet
    manage to stay inky?
  99. A high concentration of chemicals
    like sodium and titanium oxide
  100. in the atmosphere
    could be absorbing the light,
  101. but researchers suspect there's another
    more mysterious phenomenon happening.
  102. Who knows?
  103. These dark worlds may represent
    a whole new category of planets
  104. (Music)
  105. And that's your Countdown
  106. Links to all of these stories
    are in the description below.
  107. Also, don't forget to visit the Spacelab
    channel on youtube and subscribe.
  108. For Scientific American,
  109. I am Sophie Bushwick
  110. and I'm holding up for an exoplanet
    that comes with aliens,
  111. ideally aliens that look like puppies.
  112. (Laughing)
  113. (Music)