I’m 34-years-old and when I was a kid sitting in science class, the existence of planets outside our solar system was only a theory. Scientists weren’t actually able to confirm the existence of extra-solar planets until 1992, but since then, they’ve been uncovering them at a rapid pace. Nearly 575 different planets have been confirmed to exist in orbit around suns other than our own. But few, if any, of those 575 destinations are likely to be as strange as the one just discovered by the Keplar spacecraft.
One thing all planets have in common, or at least had in common until now, is that they all reflect light. The Earth for instance, reflects nearly 40% of the light sent to it by our sun back out into space. But not this planet, currently labeled as TrES-2b. There the forces of light and dark seem to be at war with one another, and light is losing. Light directed at it never actually reflects back out into space.
NASA reports that this new planet reflects less than 1% of the light hitting its surface. It’s black, really black. So black in fact that seen from space, well it almost can’t be seen from space. The light it does emit, isn’t reflected. David Spiegel of Princeton University explains, “…it’s not completely pitch black. It’s so hot that it emits a faint red glow, much like a burning ember or the coils on an electric stove.”
The really fascinating thing here is that no one’s entirely sure why or how this can happen. One theory is that its atmosphere is composed of some sort of chemical we’ve never seen before, but I have a better theory: cloaking device.
Beware Romulans bearing gifts.