Weirdest Planets: Strangest Places in the Universe
No doubt, our universe is loaded with bazaar and mysterious places and things. Modern technologies, like NASA’s Kepler telescope, have allowed us to scan the heavens for other planets. Now, with thousands confirmed, there are officially some weird planets! But, as with anything in astronomy, new, even more odd planets will inevitably be found. But, as of now, here are the 10 weirdest planets in the universe:
10. GJ 1214 b – Water world
Unlike the disappointing 1995 box office bomb, GJ 1214 b is a planet believed to be covered completely by one gigantic ocean. And, these vast waters would allow depths thousands of times deeper than our largest Earth oceans. Now, depending on temperatures and conditions, the waters’ phases may exist in steam, ice, plasma and more.
Therefore, not only is GJ 1214 b one of the weirdest planets, it’s also one of the most promising. After all, where there is water, there is oxygen, and where there is oxygen, there may be life!
9. CoKu Tau 4 – Baby world
At less than 1 million years old, an unnamed planet orbits a star known as CoKu Tau 4. Seems normal, right? It has long been thought that planets take several million years to form. Plus, planets form out of discs of dust and gas, long after their parent stars have formed. So, not only is CoKu Tau 4 one of the weirdest planets, it is currently making astronomers rethink their planetary formation theories.
8. Kepler-37b – Tiny world
As of 2013, Kepler-37b is the smallest known exoplanet (planet outside of our solar system). Only slightly larger in size than our Moon, this planet orbits close to its star. Because of this, its surface temperatures are thought to be around 800º F, hot enough to melt lead! So, Kepler-37b may not necessarily be one of the weirdest planets, but it sure is the smallest!
7. GJ 504b – Pink world
Around 57 light-years away is the exoplanet, GJ 504b, a planet about the same size as Jupiter. This large planet has a deep magenta color, but, that is not what makes GJ 504b one of the weirdest planets. Planets the size of Jupiter are rather common in our galaxy. But, they can only form within a certain distance from their star. Simply put, anywhere father out from the star than Neptune does not have enough debris to eventually form a planet this large.
However, GJ 504b sits nearly 44 times farther out from its star than does Earth from the Sun. In our own solar system, this would be like Jupiter orbiting drastically far beyond Neptune. Because of this, astronomers are now having to rethink modern theories of planet formation.
6. WASP-12b – Hot world
WASP-12b is one of the weirdest planets simply because of its tremendous heat. At twice the size of Jupiter, this planet is believed to reach sweltering temperatures of 4,000º F. These extreme temperatures are hot enough to melt titanium, steel, platinum, nickel and iron. In other words, not suitable for life.
5. TrES-4 – Giant world
TrES-4 is an absolute giant planet, ringing in at over 70% larger than Jupiter. But, its behemoth size is not what makes this one of the weirdest planets. Despite its size, the planet only contains 75% of Jupiter’s mass. This means that the giant planet has a density similar to cork or balsa wood. Obviously, this has astronomers a bit puzzled.
4. Methuselah – Ancient world
Named after the long-lived biblical character, this strange planet is thought to be around 13 billion years old. But, it’s not the age that makes this one of the weirdest planets. Rather, the fact that this Jupiter-sized world could even exist during this time period is vexing. It was believed that in this infant universe, planet-forming materials did not yet exist. Apparently, this was incorrect!
3. PSR J1719-14 b – Speed world
PSR J1719-14 b is another potential candidate for diamond planets (see #1). But, what makes it one of the weirdest planets is its speed, orbiting its star in only 2.2 hours. In other words, if you were celebrating your 21st birthday, you would actually be turning 83,000 years old. Shots!
Also, the planet’s orbits a pulsar, which is a very dense, rapidly-spinning star, left over from a star’s violent death. So, technically there are three things that makes PSR J1719-14 b one of the weirdest planets!
2. TrES-2b – Dark world
This ominous planet only reflects 1% of the light that hits it, hence the name dark world. This small amount of reflection would make it appear darker than black matte acrylic paint! It is thought that TrES-2b may have no reflective clouds because of its high temperature. Or, it may be because the planet contains chemicals that absorb light. Finally, scientists say it may be possible that it contains chemicals that we have not yet discovered!
1. 55 Cancri e – Diamond world
Super-Earth-sized planet 55 Cancri e, in the constellation Cancer is believed to contain an abundance of carbon. Under tremendous pressures and temperatures orbiting close to its star, the carbon turns to diamond. Hypothetically, this glitzy world was valued at $27 nonillion (that’s 27 followed by 30 zeros). That would be over 300 quadrillion times planet Earth’s total GDP of $70 trillion!