Located at 466 light-years away from our planet, WASP-104b, giant gaseous planet, has been discovered by the astronomers, who cataloged it quickly as the darkest planet ever found, showing a color that is comparable with that of the coal.
What is WASP-104b?
WASP-104b is a giant gaseous planet about the size of Jupiter, which orbits its star once every 1.75 days. But unlike any other gaseous planet found by astronomers, this particular one is so close to its star that the tremendous radiations emitted by the latter destroyed the planet’s atmosphere and left it with chemical elements such as potassium and sodium which emerge from the misty and dark surface of the planet.
Both these chemical elements are able to absorb about 99% of the light that reaches to the WASP-104b’s surface, a fact that made this distant planet to get directly on the #1 place on the “dark planets” list the scientists keep. “Dark planets” are those planets that barely reflect light.
How was WASP-104b discovered?
The astronomers were able to depict this planet using the transit method, the same method with which NASA’s TESS is hoping to find distant Earth-like exoplanets.
WASP-104b was discovered in 2014 as part of the Wide Angle Search for Planets project but then it seemed that it was a fairly typical hot giant gaseous planet.
However, this one stood out among other similar planets because it revealed a great orbiting speed, as it is able to complete one orbit in only 1.75 days, as mentioned.
Unfortunately, at that time, the astronomers couldn’t find anything related to the appearance of WASP-104b, the darkest planet ever discovered.
Astonishing purple color
Only later, the Kepler Space Telescope could catalog it as part of a very rare subcategory of hot Jupiter-like planets, namely, among those giant gaseous planets which absorb more light than they are able to reflect.
Shortly, scientists realized that WASP-104b is the darkest planet ever discovered. More specifically, when Kepler recorded the period before and after the planet’s transit to calculate the amount of the reflected light, the result was practically null.
According to astronomers, WASP-104b, when observed with the naked eye, would reveal an astonishing purple color. However, until future telescopes will be able to ‘see’ that far, the darkest planet ever found, will remain a great mystery in terms of appearance.