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Beyond Earthly Skies

Jet-Black Exoplanet

2 Jun 2013, 01:00 UTC
Jet-Black Exoplanet
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TrES-2b is a Jupiter-sized exoplanet discovered in 2006 by the Trans-Atlantic Exoplanet Survey (TrES). It happens to be in the field-of-view of NASA’s Kepler space telescope and observations by Kepler found that it reflects less than one percent of the sunlight falling on it. This makes TrES-2b one of the darkest exoplanets currently known. TrES-2b orbits just five million kilometres from its parent star and has an orbital period of only 2.47 days. It is in a category of planets known as hot-Jupiters. Being so close to its parent star, TrES-2b is superheated to 1000 degrees Centigrade.Figure 1: Artist’s conception of TrES-2b with a hypothetical moon in the foreground.Figure 2: Orbital photometric phase variations of TrES-2b showing a contrast of 6.5 parts per million between the planet’s day-side and night-side. Credit: David M. Kipping & David S. Spiegel (2011).Since Kepler is a planet-hunting telescope designed to measure the tiny dip in brightness when an Earth-sized planet crosses in front of its parent star, its exquisite photometric precision allows the reflectivity of TrES-2b to be measured. This is done by measuring the combined brightness of the star-planet system as the planet’s day-side rotates in and out of view. Measurements by Kepler ...

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