Shedding Some Light on a Dark Discovery

Article written: 23 Aug , 2011
Updated: 26 Apr , 2016
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Earlier this month astronomers released news of the darkest exoplanet ever seen: discovered in 2006, the gas giant TrES-2b reflects less than 1% of the visible light from its parent star… it’s literally darker than coal! Universe Today posted an article about this intriguing announcement on August 11, and now Dr. David Kipping of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics is featuring a podcast on 365 Days of Astronomy in which he gives more detail about the dark nature of this discovery.

Listen to the podcast here.

The 365 Days of Astronomy Podcast is a project that will publish one podcast per day, for all 365 days of 2011. The podcast episodes are written, recorded and produced by people around the world.

“TrES-2b is similar in mass and radius to Jupiter but Jupiter reflects some 50% of the incident light. TrES-2b has a reflectivity less than that of any other planet or moon in the Solar System or beyond. The reflectivity is significantly less than even black acrylic paint, which makes the mind boggle as to what a clump of this planet would look like in your hand. Perhaps an appropriate nickname for the world would be Erebus, the Greek God of Darkness and Shadow. But what really is causing this planet to be so dark?”

– Dr. David Kipping

David Kipping obtained a PhD in Astrophysics from University College London earlier this year. His thesis was entitled ‘The Transits of Extrasolar Planets with Moons’ and David’s main research interest revolves around exomoons. He is just starting a Carl Sagan Fellowship at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

The paper on which the the podcast is based can be found here.

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Jason Major is a graphic designer, photo enthusiast and space blogger. Visit his website Lights in the Dark and follow him on Twitter @JPMajor and on Facebook for more astronomy news and images!

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5 Responses

  1. Anonymous says

    Just a thought. If Kepler looks continuously at one patch of the sky for 3 years would it obtain a 3 year exposer time photo of that region? 🙂 I imagine that that would be the deepest sky photo ever obtained so far.

    • squidgeny says

      That only works when you point your telescope out of the plane of the Milky Way, to minimise the amount of galactic dust that would obscure the extra-galactic objects you’re trying to image. Hubble did this to obtain the Hubble Deep Field.

      Kepler, however, is looking through the plane of the Milky Way, as it’s purpose is to continually monitor a selection of stars in our galaxy.

      I doubt Kepler could be used for a Deep Field photo because the instruments on board are designed to do a completely different task. It may not even be able to pick up the right EM wavelengths to see other galaxies.

  2. Anonymous says

    COULD IT POSSIBLY BE “DARK MATTER”?

  3. Michelle Rivail says

    Artist rendering? that is a photoshopped Jupiter. Hue/saturation+levels+burn tool ehehehe

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