Space is unbelievably strange. You would be forgiven for thinking that every planet out there is similar, just a big ball of rock and gas, but planets are remarkably more unique than that. Here are the top 10 strangest planets in the known universe, that seem like they belong in some bizarre science fiction series.
First up is this dark, menacing planet affectionately, It is located 750 light years away from our solar system. As far as we know it is officially the darkest planet in the entire universe. It reflects less than % of all light that hits it, making it significantly darker than the majority of known exoplanets. It’s ominously dark surface can be partially explained by the light absorbent gasses that make up the bulk of the planet. But scientists don’t really know for sure why it is so dark. But it gets creepier, not only does this evil looking ball of gas not reflect any light, it actually glows a molten red color, as if it’s a hot ball of coal on a fire. The surface of the planet is a punishing 1,100 degrees Celsius, which is so hot that it glows red.
This next planet is anything but dark. In fact, it sparkles luminescent in space, just like a diamond. Because, well it is, in fact, a gigantic diamond. It’s about twice the size of earth and a third of it is made up of solid diamond. The planet is very carbon heavy and the planet is so dense that all carbon is in the form of solid diamond. But don’t get too excited, the diamond planet is located a spectacular 40 light years away from Earth. And even if you could travel that far and retrieve the endless supply of diamonds it has to offer. There is so much diamond on the planet that bringing even a minute fraction of it back to Earth, would completely overwhelm the diamond supply and therefore make diamonds completely worthless. So this beautiful planet is best admired from afar.
This next planet seems to define everything you thought you knew about chemistry, because it’s a giant ball of ice, on fire. Imagine for a second you’re on the ice planet Hoth from Star Wars. That’s exactly what would look like except that the icy surface is constantly burning at 439 degrees Celsius. So how can this be? How can ice defy the laws of chemistry and stay completely solid at 439 degrees above its melting point? Well, the planet’s gravity is so immensely strong that it pulls the melted ice water towards its core, compressing it into a solid form, stopping it from ever evaporating, no matter how much it burns.
Next time you complain about the weather on Earth, just stop for a moment and be thankful that you don’t live on the planet HD 189733b, where it constantly rains glass, sideways. This planet’s atmosphere is full of silicon particles which give it its beautiful blue color. But because of the planet’s extremely high surface temperatures, these silicon particles condense to form a solid glass which flies around the planet sideways in its endless, 4000 mph winds.
This poor unfortunate planet is slowly being eaten alive by its star. It’s caught up in an orbit so close to its star that the whole planet has been heated up to unimaginably high temperatures and its mass is slowly being sucked up as it hurtles around the star extremely fast. The planet which is roughly the size of Jupiter, however, it appears to be larger because the molten temperatures of its parent star have caused WASP-12b to balloon up. This poor planet loses an incredible 6 billion metric tons of mass per second. In fact, it’s being torn apart so quickly that it’s no longer a sphere, but an egg-like, oblong shape.
This planet is very special because it’s been voted by the scientific community as one of the top three exoplanets likely to support alien life. However, it’s very different to Earth. It orbits a red dwarf star so if you looked up into the sky it would always be a deep crimson red color. The planet is also tidally locked, which means it doesn’t rotate on its axis, just like our moon’s relationship to Earth, one side of the planet is always facing away from its star and the other always facing towards it. The side of Gliese 581c that is always facing its red dwarf star is so blisteringly hot that if you were to stand there it would melt you alive. However, the opposite side of the planet, facing away from the star is so cold that you would instantly freeze. So you may be wondering, how could this extremely violent planet possibly support life similar to humans? Well, there is a narrow strip of land, halfway between its hot side and its icy side that is just the perfect temperature to support life. But be careful not to take a step on the wrong side or you will most certainly be toast. In 2008 we sent a message from Earth directly at Gliese 581c and it is expected to reach the planet in 2029.
Next up is a planet in the Scorpius constellation known as. What makes this giant of a planet so peculiar is its sheer size. It is 1.9 times the size of Jupiter, which is the largest planet in our solar system. It’s so large that theoretically, it should not exist. According to scientists, it breaks the laws of how large a planet can actually get. For its size, it also has an extremely low density. Because of this, it fits into a very unique class of planets called puffy planets; yes that’s actually a scientific term. Puffy planets are planets with an extremely large radius and a very low density for their size. But that’s not all that makes WASP-b so strange. It also has a retrograde orbit, which means it rotates in an opposite direction to its host star.
You may remember that Luke Skywalker’s home planet of Tatooine in Star Wars had two suns. But, as is often the case, real life can be much more amazing than science fiction. 149 light-years from Earth is a planet with not one, not two, but three suns. This three-star planet which goes by its catalog name of sites within the triple star system HD. If you could live on this planet you would experience triple shadows, and constant eclipses as its threes parent stars cross each other’s paths and of course, you would see the some of the strangest and most beautiful sunsets and sunrises in the universe.
Now imagine you’re in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the sky is blue with fluffy white clouds but there’s no land to be seen, in every direction you turn is just endless water. Well, that’s exactly what it would be like if you were to visit this planet 47 light years away from Earth, which goes by its catalog name of. That’s because it’s made up entirely of water, many scientists have nicknamed this planet the water world. The entire surface of the planet is one giant, continuous ocean, and it remains the exactly the same for miles underneath the surface until eventually, you hit the planet’s core, which is made of solid ice. But this isn’t any ordinary ice, it’s not the kind of ice you would find in your freezer. Because this ice isn’t frozen due to cold temperatures. The water in the planet’s core is under such immense levels of pressure from the surface that the core has been compressed into solid ice. This is a very special form of ice known to scientists as ice VII (ice seven).
And last but not least. 470 light years away is a planet discovered by the Kepler space observatory, known as Kepler 438b. This planet is very strange, not because it has any extreme features, but quite the opposite. Because it is, to date, the most Earth-like planet we have ever found. The Earth Similarity Index is a standard measure of how similar to Earth another planet is. With a score of being identical to Earth in every way, and being nothing like Earth. Kepler-b boasts an impressive Earth Similarity Index of Making Kepler b super rare, and very special. Discovered in January, this planet has all the right pre-requisites for alien life. Most importantly it is a rocky world, like Earth and its proximity to its host star puts it in what scientists call the Goldilocks zone, which is the holy grail of space exploration. The Goldilocks zone is when a planet is not too close to its parent star that it’s too hot for life, yet not too far away that it’s too cold. Water is essential to life, where’s there’s water, there’s probably life, but in order to have a complex life there has to be liquid water, which most of the time can only occur in the Goldilocks zone. So Kepler b, a rocky planet in the Goldilocks zone is highly likely to have liquid water, and therefore life. Which makes it one of the strangest and most interesting exoplanets we have ever discovered?