Since the discovery of exoplanets, it is proved that we don’t know much about the universe, including the physical appearance of some planets such as WASP-104b. Scientists guessed that there exists an exoplanet only 466 light years from the Earth which is so dark that even Kepler telescope could not detect it. According to the scientists, this could be the darkest planet ever discovered. Moreover, this hot Jupiter-class planet absorbs nearly 99 percent of the starlight and reflects even less light than charcoal.
As scientists could not see the planet, they had to use the transit method to detect its location. To locate the planet, they measured the miniscule dimming of the adjacent star as the WASP-104b passed in front of it, and the subtle gravitational changes it inflicted on the star. A researcher at the Keele University and the lead author of the study, Teo Mocnik said, “From all the darkest planets that are discovered, WASP-104b could be regarded as one of the top three hot Jupiter planets. It is ridiculous that how dark this planet is and how little we know about the universe.” However, WASP-104b is not the first hot Jupiter discovered by scientists. TrES-2b is another exoplanet that NASA’s Kepler spacecraft detected revolving around a giant star in 2011. TrES-2b is about 750 light years away in the direction of the constellation Draco, and it absorbs more than 99 percent of light, making it one of the darkest planets ever known.
Planets such as WASP-104b are called as hot Jupiters as they are about the size of Jupiter. However, they often are too close to their parent star. There are several mysteries that hot Jupiters contain. It is unclear why these planets never get eaten by their host star despite of their closeness with the host star. Scientists have offered three theories to explain. One of those theories stated that the hot star’s magnetic field acts as a barrier, preventing them from collision with the host star. WASP-104b is no different than other hot Jupiters. It is awfully close to its host star that it completes a full orbital rotation in less than two days. Moreover, researchers guess that the proximity of the planet may be the reason behind its pitch-black appearance.
WASP-104b and Earth’s moon show a similarity in their rotations. The WASP-104b’s one side continuously faces its host star. As a result, one side of the planet permanently experiences daylight and other suffers from endless night. It is guessed that the atmosphere of the WASP-104b is thick, hazy, and enriched with atomic sodium and potassium, which can absorb any light in the visible spectrum. Maybe, that is why, the WASP-104b is the darkest exoplanet and hard to spot. However, Mocnik believes that the planet could have a distinct color that cannot be perceived from the large distance of 466 light years. Furthermore, he said that incoming solar radiation might shade some light on the planet and we might see its color, probably as dark purple or ember red. However, for now, all we know is that WASP-104b is a new “invisible planet”.