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For those planets, it is suggested that things like clouds and alkali metals are the reason for the absorption of light, but those don't work for WASP-12b because it is so incredibly hot," explains Bell.
Because it is so close to its parent star, the gravitational pull of the star has stretched WASP-12b into an egg shape and raised the surface temperature of its daylight side to 2600 degrees Celsius.The results were surprising, explains lead author Taylor Bell, a Master's student in astronomy at Mc Gill University who is affiliated with the Institute for Research on Exoplanets: "The measured albedo of WASP-12b is 0.064 at most.This is an extremely low value, making the planet darker than fresh asphalt!It's classified as a 'hot jupiter' - a giant, gaseous planet that heats to extreme temperatures because it orbits exceptionally close to its host star.Considering this, the planet's habit of eating light is even more bizarre - Most hot Jupiters reflect 40 percent of light.The results are also in stark contrast to observations of another similarly sized exoplanet.
Using the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) on the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, an international team led by astronomers at Mc Gill University, Canada, and the University of Exeter, UK, have measured how much light the exoplanet WASP-12b reflects—its albedo—in order to learn more about the composition of its atmosphere.
" This makes WASP-12b two times less reflective than our Moon which has an albedo of 0.12.
Bell adds: "The low albedo shows we still have a lot to learn about WASP-12b and other similar exoplanets." WASP-12b orbits the Sun-like star WASP-12A, about 1400 light-years away, and since its discovery in 2008 it has become one of the best studied exoplanets.
Anyway, back to our friend and his heyday account: It's pretty incredible in so many ways.
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has observed a distant planet outside our solar system that eats light instead of reflecting it.
The data gathered by Bell and his team allowed them to determine whether the planet reflects more light towards the blue or the red end of the spectrum.