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Jupiter-Sized Alien Planet Is Darkest Ever (Barely) Seen

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the none-more-black dept.

Space 207

thebchuckster writes "The darkest alien world ever spotted by astronomers has been discovered in the outskirts of our galaxy. 'It's darker than the blackest lump of coal, than dark acrylic paint you might paint with. It's bizarre how this huge planet became so absorbent of all the light that hits it,' David Kipping, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics."

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don't look (0, Troll)

tqft (619476) | more than 3 years ago | (#37092142)

it's goatse

Aliens Develop Perfect Solar Power (3, Insightful)

Warwick Allison (209388) | more than 3 years ago | (#37092152)

What's happened to /. titling?

Re:Aliens Develop Perfect Solar Power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37092188)

"My God, it's full of stars!"

Re:Aliens Develop Perfect Solar Power (2)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#37092244)

Do you reckon this planet is covered by monoliths? Maybe its going to explode.

Re:Aliens Develop Perfect Solar Power (1)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 3 years ago | (#37092326)

Perhaps they finally found "the ass end of space" everyone keeps talking about.

Re:Aliens Develop Perfect Solar Power (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#37092420)

Prone to methane eruptions no doubt.

Re:Aliens Develop Perfect Solar Power (1)

plover (150551) | more than 3 years ago | (#37092896)

Perhaps they finally found "the ass end of space" everyone keeps talking about.

It's not that kind of "chocolate star".

Re:Aliens Develop Perfect Solar Power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37092222)

You mean "Dark matter identified in our galaxy!"?

How about #000000 (1)

abednegoyulo (1797602) | more than 3 years ago | (#37092164)

Is it darker than #000000?

Re:How about #000000 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37092194)

Yes, it's #-1-1-1-1-1-1.

It's like, how much more black could this be? And the answer is none. None more black.

Re:How about #000000 (2)

hcpxvi (773888) | more than 3 years ago | (#37092248)

Is it darker than #000000?
Nope, they say it reflects "less than 1% of the light falling onto it". So it could be as light as #020202 (but not #030303).

Re:How about #000000 (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#37092656)

Getting it to look right on today's glossy and emissive displays is going to be real trouble, no matter what color we choose...

Re:How about #000000 (3)

PhrostyMcByte (589271) | more than 3 years ago | (#37092898)

Nope, they say it reflects "less than 1% of the light falling onto it". So it could be as light as #020202 (but not #030303).

RGB hex values are gamma compressed—they represent perceived brightness and not actual light. #020202 actually represents about 0.06% the light of #FFF.

The correct value representing "less than 1%" (assuming #FFF is falling on it) is #191919.

Re:How about #000000 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37092228)

The darkness goes to 11.

Re:How about #000000 (1)

unique_parrot (1964434) | more than 3 years ago | (#37092374)

Link to a pic please ;)

Re:How about #000000 (2)

itsdapead (734413) | more than 3 years ago | (#37092494)

Here you go. This is the original negative image of course - they'll produce a reversed, colorized print to keep journalists happy but here on /. we understand that sort of thing.

(Sorry guys, you're just going to have to imagine a big chunk of whitespace here because the Slashdot lameness filter has no fecking sense of humor)

Re:How about #000000 (2)

itsdapead (734413) | more than 3 years ago | (#37092520)

Is it darker than #000000?

Yep, its #FFFFFFFF!

Re:How about #000000 (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 3 years ago | (#37092746)

Is it blacker than a pot *and* a kettle? [youtube.com]

Re:How about #000000 (2)

metacell (523607) | more than 3 years ago | (#37092748)

Technically speaking, the question is meaningless, since...

1) The #xxxxxx system describes what colour an object displays under specific conditions (for example, lighting), not an object's innate light reflection ability (albedo).
2) The #xxxxxx system doesn't describe colour on an absolute scale; it only orders colours in an arbitrary space with an arbitrary metric. For example, there's no guarantee that #000002 is twice as bright as #000001, and there's no guarantee that #000000 is absolute black. Even when a monitor is turned off, the screen is slightly brighter than absolute black, and when it's turned on with all pixels set to #000000, it's a little brighter still. That's why for example printers and researchers need to use better systems for measuring colours.

That thing from the Fifth Element? (2)

Zombie Ryushu (803103) | more than 3 years ago | (#37092168)

Is it that big evil thing from the Fifth Element? Do we need four stones to make it fire a a giant Laser beam at it? Is it going to make evil people leak black tar?

Re:That thing from the Fifth Element? (1)

Coisiche (2000870) | more than 3 years ago | (#37092226)

More importantly, does that mean Leeloo's coming to Earth?

Re:That thing from the Fifth Element? (1)

Yaotzin (827566) | more than 3 years ago | (#37092252)

Does that mean we can finally get multipasses and wear strange neon coloured rubber clothing?

Re:That thing from the Fifth Element? (1)

Platinumrat (1166135) | more than 3 years ago | (#37092390)

M - u - l - t - i - p - a - s - s

Re:That thing from the Fifth Element? (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 3 years ago | (#37092700)

No - just the duct tape suit barely covering anything.

Re:That thing from the Fifth Element? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37092466)

I think you'll find she's already here and has been for a while...

Re:That thing from the Fifth Element? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37092824)

Oh well thats us done for then. We've got no hope that she'll help us with our current and past activities in the middle-east etc.

Unless... We kidnap Bruce Willis and lock them in a room together!!

Re:That thing from the Fifth Element? (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#37092568)

Ghetti Prime. Now, where's Arakkis?

Re:That thing from the Fifth Element? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37092716)

Geidi Prime. Arrakis. I've remotely deactivated your geek account.

Re:That thing from the Fifth Element? (1)

Rennt (582550) | more than 3 years ago | (#37092940)

Giedi Prime, maybe?

Re:That thing from the Fifth Element? (1)

cvtan (752695) | more than 3 years ago | (#37092828)

+5 points for Fifth Element reference.

public enemy (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37092200)

fear of a black planet!

Re:public enemy (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 3 years ago | (#37092710)

Now we just have to name that phobia.

In other news.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37092202)

The planet is apparently entirely populated by gloomy goth people, who paradoxically seem happier than ever.

Disappointed... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37092234)

Here I am, sitting here with mod points, and I'm very disappointed at the poor quality of the comment so far...

possibility for error? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37092236)

Considering how this planet is 750 light years away, and how hard it is to detect these planets, isn't it possible that this measurement is just an error of sorts, before changing planet formation theories?

Re:possibility for error? (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 3 years ago | (#37092274)

before changing planet formation theories?

Don't think anything that grand has been mentioned anywhere in TFA. The question is more along the lines of what mixture of vaporised rocks would make an atmosphere with those oddball properties.

Re:possibility for error? (1)

JamesP (688957) | more than 3 years ago | (#37092432)

Yeah, I mean, it was probably made in the vaporized rocks of Mount Doom or something like it

Re:possibility for error? (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 3 years ago | (#37092314)

No, it's just someone's soot dump from when they cleaned their fireplace.

Re:possibility for error? (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#37092508)

<sigh> It's just another planet that couldn't pay it's bills so the Sun cut it off. Once again evil corporations have gone too far.

All the evidence suggests is (1)

MrKaos (858439) | more than 3 years ago | (#37092238)

That's no moon.

Re:All the evidence suggests is (2)

gmueckl (950314) | more than 3 years ago | (#37092280)

That's a space station! Painted all black!

Re:All the evidence suggests is (4, Funny)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 3 years ago | (#37092352)

I see a Death star

And I want it painted black....

Re:All the evidence suggests is (3, Funny)

itsdapead (734413) | more than 3 years ago | (#37092548)

I see a Death star

And I want it painted black....

Palpatine: absolutely not!
Anakin: That's SO not fair!!! You're NOT my father!!!

(Or do rebellious teenage super villains demand to paint their bedroom magnolia?)

Re:All the evidence suggests is (3, Funny)

Liinux (1051016) | more than 3 years ago | (#37092308)

That's no moon.

I find your lack of originality disturbing.

Re:All the evidence suggests is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37092348)

That's no moon.

I find your lack of originality disturbing.

Mii too!

Re:All the evidence suggests is (1)

MrKaos (858439) | more than 3 years ago | (#37092632)

That's no moon.

I find your lack of originality disturbing.

Who's the greater fool, the fool or the fool who follows?

Re:All the evidence suggests is (1)

Liinux (1051016) | more than 3 years ago | (#37092670)

That's no moon.

I find your lack of originality disturbing.

Who's the greater fool, the fool or the fool who follows?

Better a witty fool than a foolish wit.

artificial (4, Insightful)

Darth Cider (320236) | more than 3 years ago | (#37092256)

Maybe it's a Dyson sphere [wikipedia.org] .

Re:artificial (4, Informative)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 3 years ago | (#37092322)

But in that case it would encapsulate the star - not circle it.

Re:artificial (5, Funny)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#37092370)

But in that case it would encapsulate the star - not circle it.

Yeah, that's what the engineers told the management, too. But the management didn't believe it. So they built it around the planet instead.

Re:artificial (2)

GNious (953874) | more than 3 years ago | (#37092448)

Would it be possibly to build a Dyson Sphere around a single star in a binary system?
Really, I'd like to know :) Am thinking it would be an order of magnitude harder (gravitational shear being 1 possible impediment), but could be? Then covering it is something to absorb sunlight from the other star could make sense ....

Re:artificial (1)

Jamu (852752) | more than 3 years ago | (#37092576)

I'd guess that the largest problem would be tidal forces, although with a strong enough, or flexible enough, material, this could be overcome. Otherwise, if the stars were far enough apart, and the Dyson Sphere small enough, it would be possible to minimise the tidal forces from the external star.

Re:artificial (1)

justsayin (2246634) | more than 3 years ago | (#37092780)

Why you need to know? You got some plans this weekend we are not aware of? Like maybe sneaking off to the alpha quadrant and beginning the construction process? Again? You know we cant get any reliable student help and on this budget that's the only labor option we got. I mean after those cloning vats blew up,...

Re:artificial (2)

itsdapead (734413) | more than 3 years ago | (#37092822)

Would it be possibly to build a Dyson Sphere around a single star in a binary system?

Anything is possible with enough unobtanium, artificial gravity (unless you spin it up to ludicrous speed to make gravity - see Ringworld) and matter transmutation (if you believe the words of thousand-year-old ship's prostitutes).

Seriously, come back and ask that question when we know how to build a Dyson sphere around a single sun.

Anyway, I thought the original "Dyson sphere" concept was actually a cloud of satellites dense enough to capture all of the solar energy, rather than the rigid sci-fi version with all its tricky engineering?

Re:artificial (4, Interesting)

Gideon Wells (1412675) | more than 3 years ago | (#37092496)

I'm sure there is a major flaw in the following hypothesis, but couldn't there be a "dyson sphere" around a planet for different reasons? Dyson Spheres are built around a star as a hypothetical optimal method of complete solar harvesting.

What if a species not quite that advanced built such a shell around their own world? One flaw is how to best simulate their sun for grass/animals. Holes in the sphere? A series of lights, or a few on a track, that go around the world as needed? It would work best if the species were nocturnal (either by natural or "artificial" evolution at this point). Considering this is "Jupiter sized" then this thing would have enough room for twenty-two Earths to go from one end to another at the equator. There could be a whole planet and moon system inside.

That much surface area and they might be able to easily simulate their sun on planet for wildlife and then some. According to Wikipedia Jupiter's surface area: 6.1419×1010 km2. Cut that in half since even if the sphere doesn't rotate half of it will be facing their sun, and you have the maximum usable space for solar cells or whatever they are using instead. How much energy would that produce? Unless this thing is a relic left behind, they might not need a full blown Dyson Sphere yet.

According to the article it is in that star's habital zone. So it is in the right spot if it were a converted habital world. Dyson Sphere may not be the correct term, but the concept itself completely off from what could be here.

Then again, it could be the universe's largest naturally formed piece of coal or we discovered the home hub of the all consuming nanite swarm.

Re:artificial (1)

Forty Two Tenfold (1134125) | more than 3 years ago | (#37092522)

One flaw is how to best simulate their sun for grass/animals.

Let the light in and keep it there. No sun substitute required.

Re:artificial (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37092610)

But, you know, if they feel they need more energy from light, they could have a sphere around their planet that is much larger than their planet, thus harvesting more energy than what the direct light would give them.

Re:artificial (1)

m50d (797211) | more than 3 years ago | (#37092706)

What if a species not quite that advanced built such a shell around their own world?

Sure it's possible, but why the hell would they ever do that? Planets don't give off energy that you want to harvest.

Re:artificial (2)

itsdapead (734413) | more than 3 years ago | (#37092884)

Sure it's possible, but why the hell would they ever do that?

Pre-Copernican theme park for religious literalists? Just paint stars on the inside.

Re:artificial (1)

d3ac0n (715594) | more than 3 years ago | (#37092904)

Well, given how close this thing is to it's parent star, perhaps as a defense mechanism?

Think of an ordinary roughly Earth-sized planet within the habitable zone of a main sequence yellow star much like our own Sun. Now imagine a large gravitational mass (such as a black hole or rogue Gas Giant) passes close enough to perturb the orbit of the planet, causing it to slow down and fall inwards towards it's sun.

If the inhabitants of such a planet were more advanced than us, but not yet advanced enough to have developed a reliable form of long-range space travel, they would be able to determine that the final orbit of their world would be far too close to their sun for life to survive.

Given that they would have some time before final orbit was reached, they might construct just such a sphere as a shield against the massive heat of their sun so that their race could survive long enough to develop the previously mentioned space travel capability.

Actually, that would make a very interesting book.

Re:artificial (1)

Blue Stone (582566) | more than 3 years ago | (#37092836)

>A series of lights, or a few on a track, that go around the world as needed?

That's how the Shell World 'Sursamen' in Ian M Banks' book 'Matter' operates. He called the suns Roll Stars.

Re:artificial (1)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 3 years ago | (#37092886)

One flaw is how to best simulate their sun for grass/animals.

Maybe that is the problem that they were trying to solve: their sun may have evolved to produce more visible light than what they needed, but they still needed the thermal energy. So they paint the sphere black to absorb the heat but not the visible light.

Re:artificial (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 3 years ago | (#37092834)

Dyson spheres do not, by definition "encapsulate" a star... read up on them: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dyson_sphere

Re:artificial (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37092944)

It still could encapsulate a smaller star if it is an binary system.

Re:artificial (2)

splutty (43475) | more than 3 years ago | (#37092468)

The problem with that being that a Dyson sphere needs to be completely light absorbent on the *inside*, the outside really doesn't matter, although in this case it being light absorbent on the outside would also capture an insignificant amount of light from the primary.

Always assuming it's a binary system with one star being encapsulated.

In an SF context, that even makes some modicum of sense, in that you'd still have an actual sun and all...

Re:artificial (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37092492)

what - a *really* big vacuum cleaner?

Re:artificial (1)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 3 years ago | (#37092870)

Wow... part of the biggest vacuum cleaner in all history. At least God doesn't use old fashioned wheeled vacuum cleaners...

Black Holes- vacuum cleaners steered using Dyson Spheres.
Sorry... my jokes suck today.

Re:artificial (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37092942)

I've always wondered - where exactly does the matter used to creat the dyson sphere come from? Those things are huge, astronomically. There'd need to be some sort of planet-eater that took stars and used the raw matter for a building block to create something so large.

Circumventing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37092264)

FTFA: "The planet in question, TrES-2b, was detected by NASA's Kepler spacecraft circumventing the yellow sun-like star GSC 03549-02811"

Surely they mean "orbiting"? "Circling" even? But "circumventing"?

Re:Circumventing? (2)

hcpxvi (773888) | more than 3 years ago | (#37092318)

Surely they mean "orbiting"? "Circling" even? But "circumventing"?
I was about to make the same point, but the OED gives several meaning for "circumvent", one of which is "To go round, make the circuit of." Still, it is not the way that most people use the word; I think we can conclude that TFA is not written by one of the web's better science journalists.

Re:Circumventing? (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#37092376)

Surely they mean "orbiting"? "Circling" even? But "circumventing"?

I was about to make the same point, but the OED gives several meaning for "circumvent", one of which is "To go round, make the circuit of." Still, it is not the way that most people use the word; I think we can conclude that TFA is not written by one of the web's better science journalists.

Or maybe not by a native English speaker?

Re:Circumventing? (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 3 years ago | (#37092334)

Interesting choice of words - and since the star is some 750 light years away it seems unlikely that it would be orbiting.

Unless someone has invented the warp drive.

How dark? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37092282)

"darker'n a black steer's tookus on a moonless prairie night?"

Re:How dark? (5, Funny)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#37092350)

It is pitch black. Probably the home world of the grues.

Re:How dark? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37092412)

Yah, don't go there, you will be eaten.

Fear of a Black Planet (1)

Tempest451 (791438) | more than 3 years ago | (#37092284)

Public Enemy called it!

This is Spinal Tap Planet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37092286)

It's like, how much more black could this be?

its scorched black (1)

kubitus (927806) | more than 3 years ago | (#37092300)

if you would be so close to the sun, you would be scorched black too!

Look out for Harkonnens (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37092358)

I can't be the only one thinking of Giedi Prime!

Re:Look out for Harkonnens (1)

JazzHarper (745403) | more than 3 years ago | (#37092872)

You're not, but you're anon, so you get zero points.

Solar Power (1)

Neil Boekend (1854906) | more than 3 years ago | (#37092378)

It's inhabited by aliens. They have almost perfected solar power, just like the asteroid in Ender's Game.

Non-Alien (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37092394)

Which is the darkest non-ailien planet?

Re:Non-Alien (1)

nabil2199 (1142085) | more than 3 years ago | (#37092510)

Which is the darkest non-ailien planet?

that would be Uranus

Kardashev (4, Interesting)

Dik Zak (974638) | more than 3 years ago | (#37092416)

It's also hot in infrared. Isn't this exactly what you would expect to see from a planet with a Kardashev level 1 civilisation?

Re:Kardashev (1, Troll)

Muad'Dave (255648) | more than 3 years ago | (#37092826)

Isn't this exactly what you would expect to see from a planet with a Kardashev level 1 civilisation?

I'd expect to see needy drama queens on a planet with a Kardashian [wikipedia.org] level 1 civilization.

acrylic? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37092464)

How would acrylic conjure up 'darkness' more than any other emulsion? (I'm sure it made sense to Kipping, I just can't figure what he based that odd view on.)

Re:acrylic? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#37092754)

It could just be a quirky, excessively tightly specified, phrasing during the 'dumb it down for the journalists' phase; but their might actually be a more astronomy-related reason:

If Kipping has had to get his hands dirty with any of the apparatus-side aspects of doing very precise optical telescope work, he may well have encountered substantially blacker-than-ordinary surface coatings being used to scrub unwanted light-scatter in sensitive optical gear. In the spirit of accuracy, he might have been emphasizing that your garden-variety "black paint" doesn't compare; but didn't want to just say "paint" because there are some very specialized black surface finishes that are less reflective still.(I think that the record is presently held by some curious carbon-nanotube arrangement that only reflects 0.045% of what falls on it.)

It aint the darkest planet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37092484)

The darkest planet(s) should be the one(s) could not be detected since no light will return.

Re:It aint the darkest planet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37092566)

Are you blind?
We are talking about the darkest planet ever SEEN!!

Re:It aint the darkest planet (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#37092784)

Returning no light is a tall order: If you are an efficient absorber of light, you'll heat up, and emit black-body radiation.(Assuming you don't just happen to occlude your star from the perspective of an earth observer during part of your orbit and get picked up that way, where being darker actually makes detection easier...)

There are probably some chunks of fairly dark and very cold material floating virtually undetectable in the void, but if you've got a nearby star irradiating you, it's just a matter of a trade-off between reflecting light and emitting it...

Pics (1)

TafBang (1971954) | more than 3 years ago | (#37092526)

Or it didn't happen.

Good (1)

marqs (774373) | more than 3 years ago | (#37092540)

Good that someone final turn the spotlight and shed some light on this. Why do you turn of your lights and pull down the blinds if you have nothing to hide?

Dead star's core. (1)

Forty Two Tenfold (1134125) | more than 3 years ago | (#37092554)

Maybe it's a red giant remnant (carbon core)?

I blame... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37092570)

The atmosphere of the super-heated world is thought to reach temperatures of some 2192 degrees (1200 degrees Celsius).

I blame anthropogenic carbon emissions!

*ducks*

Hot like on Facebook (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37092616)

From the article:
Like us on Facebook TrES-2b is so hot that scientists said it emits a faint red glow, similar to a burning ember.

One day we set foot on a dark world (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37092628)

Where a terrible enemy slept...

Darkest? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37092730)

Wouldn't the darkest planet ever be that one we can't see cause it's too dark?

DARKNESS! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37092796)

If it's DARKNESS, it must be CHARLIE MURPHY!

2001 (2)

metalmonkey (1083851) | more than 3 years ago | (#37092854)

Maybe it's from 2001 "All the monoliths are black, extremely flat, non-reflective rectangular solids."
I remember Arthur C. Clarke's description of the blackness quite well, I'm thinking it was written slightly better than the summaries description of black.
Unfortunately I don't have the book with me.

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