Watch: ‘Giant mirror’ like alien planet with metallic clouds discovered; astronomers say ‘shouldn’t exist'
Reseachers have discovered an ultra-hot exo-planet that reflects a whopping 80% of the light shone on it by its host star, acting like a “mirror.”
Researchers on Monday discovered an ultra-hot exo-planet which acts like a mirror in space. The exo-planet, which means it’s located outside our solar system, is covered by reflective metallic clouds, making it the shiniest exoplanet ever found, the European Space Agency (ESA) said.
The planet, named LTT9779b, was discovered during the ESA’s exoplanet mission ‘Cheops’. “Aside from the Moon, the brightest object in our night sky is planet Venus, whose thick cloud layer reflects around 75% of the Sun’s light. Meanwhile the Earth only reflects 30% of the sunlight,” ESA said in its blog. However, this newly discovered exoplanet reflects a whopping 80% of the light shone on it by its host star, acting like a “mirror" and making it the universe's most reflective object known.
"It's a giant mirror in space," astronomer James Jenkins of Diego Portales University and the Center for Excellence in Astrophysics and Associated Technologies (CATA) in Chile was quoted as saying by Reuters. He is a co-author of the research published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.
LTT9779b is located about 264 light years from Earth in the direction of the constellation Sculptor in our Milky Way galaxy and its diameter is about 4.7 times greater than Earth.
Astronomer and study co-author Vivien Parmentier said the discovery of an alien planet with an atmosphere while orbiting close to its star defies expectations, as it is a phenomenon that "shouldn't exist." "The super-reflective cloud cover likely helped stop the planet from warming up too much and being stripped of its atmosphere," Parmentier said. Terming it a unique phenomenon to this planet, he explained that other planets at this temperature that are big enough to keep their atmosphere are too hot to form clouds and are charcoal like.
More than 5,000 planets beyond our solar system - called exoplanets - have been discovered so far.