Top 5 Best and Most Interesting Exoplanets

Top 5 Best and Most Interesting Exoplanets

What are Exoplanets?

Kepler22b-artwork.jpg


Exoplanets are planets outside our solar system. For decades astronomers have searched for planets outside of our solar system.

As of today, 974 exoplanets have been discovered to date according to the Extrasolar Planets Encyclopaedia,

Even though every exoplanet is unique, some exoplanets are more exciting than others. Below we highlight 5 of the most interesting and exciting exoplanets of the bunch.

 

Top 5 Exoplanets

 

Alpha Centauri Bb

Discovering a planet similar in size to Earth orbiting a star like the Sun is has been a goal of astronomers everywhere since the first exoplanet was discovered.

That’s exactly what happened when in 2012 Xavier Dumusque of the Geneva Observatory in Switzerland, found Alpha Centauri Bb.

The exoplanet is about 10% heavier than Earth and orbits a Sun that has about 93% of our Sun’s mass. It is the most similar exoplanet to Earth.

Unfortunately, the planet does not lie in the circumstellar habitable zone, which is the region around a star which planetary mass objects exist at pressures and temperatures sufficient to allow water to exist as a liquid at their surfaces.

The planet’s surface temperature likely reaches 1200 degrees Celsius (2200 degrees Fahrenheit).


 

Kepler-70b

When it comes to record holding, exoplanet Kepler-70b holds many of the titles. At a distance of 0.006 AU, it orbits closer to its parent star than any other planet.

Kepler-70B also has the fastest average velocity traveling at an incredible 608,000 km/h (608,000mph) making it the fastest exoplanet known to date.

If those records weren’t enough, Kepler-70b also has the smallest mass of any exoplanet, weighing just 44% of what the Earth does.

It is also the hottest exoplanet with temperatures reaching an estimated 6930 degrees Celsius (12,500 degrees Fahrenheit).

 

PSR B1620-26 b

Artist's impression of pulsar planet B1620-26b.jpg


The Earth was formed 4.65 billion years ago, which seems like a long time, but when compared to exoplanet PSR B1620-26 b, the Earth is just a baby. PSR B1620-26b was born 13 billion years ago and is the oldest planet we know of.

Discovered in 2013, the planet has a mass approximately 2.5 times that of Jupiter and takes about 100 years to complete an orbit. It resides in the globular star cluster M4.

 

Fomalhaut b

Fomalhaut planet.jpg


The majority of exoplanets discovered orbit close to their stars because of the two techniques that astronomers rely on. The radial-velocity method detects the wobbles a planet’s gravity induces, and the transit method identifies slight dips in the stars brightness that is caused when the exoplanet passes in front of it.

This was not the case with Fomalhaut b, which was discovered by astronomers directly imaging it. Unlike other techniques, imaging has a habit of finding stars far away from their stars.

Using the Hubble Space Telescope, researchers in 2008 detected Fomalhaut b, which has the longest orbital period and takes roughly 876 years to orbit its star. That is 5 times longer than it takes Neptune to orbit the Sun.

Image by: ESA, NASA, and L. Calcada (ESO for STScI)

 

55 Cancri e

Earth and Super-Earth.jpg


Last but not least we have the exoplanet 55 Cancri e. This planet is believed to have a subsurface layer of diamonds miles thick!

Discovered in 2004, studies have shown that its host star has a lot of carbon. Scientist think that if the planet formed from the same cloud as its star, there’s likely a thick layer of diamond lying beneath its’ graphite-rich surface.

Image by: NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt (SSC)

Find more on: Astronomy Science and News

Back to Learn Astronomy


If you enjoyed this, sign up for the newsletter


 Privacy policy and cookies | Disclaimer | Contact Us | Credits | Resources | Site Map © LearnAstronomyHQ.com 2012-2014