A few decades ago, the thought of other planets orbiting around other stars, in fact exoplanets, was just that, a thought. It wasn’t until the 1950s that we really started to think about other planets. Science Fiction books and TV shows began to dream up fantastic worlds and what they could be like. Star Trek showed planets that had animals that weren’t carbon based like ourselves. It wasn’t until the Kepler Mission headed by NASA that really brought this from science fiction into reality. We have found over 1,000 different exoplanets and have run across some interesting ones.
Diamonds are made from pressurized carbon. That’s right. The stuff you use to burn to power and heat homes are the same stuff that diamonds is made from. As it turns out, there is a planet is made from diamonds. The planet’s name is 55 Cancri. It is about twice the size of the Earth. However, it weighs as much as eight times our planet. The planet is loaded with carbon. Adding to that, the heat on that planet is so high, 3,900 degrees Fahrenheit, that it can put so much pressure on the carbon that it will turn to diamonds. The planet is about 40 light-years away from us and other exoplanets in the constellation Cancer.
The next planet has been talked much since its discovery. Star Wars features a planet that orbits two stars. As it turns out, there is a planet that does just that. What’s more is that it orbits that stars in such a distance, that it makes it possible for liquid water to exist and wherever we find water, we find life. The planet is called Kepler-47. Although it orbits two stars, the combined heat it receives from both of them does not equal the amount we receive from our own. So, the planet can be closer. Unfortunately, it is believed that the planet is a gas giant and does not contain any life.
The largest exoplanet discovered is also a mystery. The planet is called TrES-4. It is about 1.7 times the size of Jupiter. However, its density is so low that it is believed to give off a tail like a
comet. Added to that, a year here on Earth is only 3.5 days there. Meaning, it only takes 3.5 days for TrES-4 to orbit its star. What’s so mysterious about it is its size. According to scientists, it shouldn’t even exist.
So Far, the coldest alien world to be found is OGLE-2005-BLG-390Lb. It’s about 5.5 times the size our planet. However, this planet orbits its star at a distance of 28,000 light-years. In comparison, we are only 92.96 million miles from our sun. The light coming from our star only takes about eight minutes to get to us. The light coming to this planet from its star takes 28,000 years to get to it. If you were standing on that planet, you would see how that star looked like 28,000 years ago. You would be looking into the past.
You’ve been introduced to the coldest. Now, let’s take a look at the hottest. Called WASP-12b this planet orbits its star at a distance of 2 million miles. Mercury orbits the sun at a distance of 35.98 million miles. An average day on this planet is 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Needless to say, the possibility of life on almost all exoplanets is highly unlikely.