Hubble revealed a black-black exoplanet

Having sent the Hubble spectrograph to the planet WASP-12b, scientists from an international collaboration led by astronomers from the Canadian University of McGill and the British University of Exter measured the albedo (reflectance) of the surface of the exoplanet WASP-12b and obtained record low values: the upper limit of the value for WASP-12b - 0.064, which is half that of the Moon, and approximately corresponds to the reflectivity of hot asphalt.

The planet WASP-12b revolves around the sun-like star WASP-12A, which is located 1, 400 light years from Earth. The relative proximity of the star to the solar system and the convenience of location made WASP-12b one of the most studied exoplanets. The planet is huge (almost twice as large as Jupiter, and its orbit is very close to the star - so that the year on the planet lasts a little longer than Earth's day. Gravity of the star stretched the planet along the equator: WASP-12b is not round, but rather has the shape of an egg. According to calculations astrophysicists, the planet is very hot: a star heats its surface to 2600 ° C. The high surface temperature partly explains the low albedo.

There are other Super-Jupiters with a low albedo, but these planets are not as hot as WASP-12b, and their blackness is usually explained by dense clouds. But the temperature of WASP-12b is too high for cloud formation. The atmosphere of the planet consists of atomic hydrogen and helium and is more like the atmosphere of a small star.

WASP-12b became the second exoplanet for which it was possible to measure the albedo: the first was HD 189733b - the gas giant from the constellation Chanterelle. Reflectivity measurements of HD 189733b indicate that the planet reflects blue light - and therefore looks blue in the rays of its star. Unlike it, WASP-12b almost does not reflect light, but it does not glow very well, therefore it should look black with reddish reflections.

Based on material published on the Hubble Space Observatory website.


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