Some of these new-found worlds are so fantastic, it’s hard to believe they actually exist.
very day, it seems as though a new exoplanet—the term for planets located outside our solar system—is discovered. And some of these planets have features so unbelievable, they seem like something straight out of science fiction.
We can’t see exoplanets with our own eyes, even through strong telescopes. They’re just too small. So how can we tell what they’re made of or what they look like? The answer is light. By analyzing the light an object emits (or in the case of a planet, reflects), we can get an idea of what their surfaces might be like. When the light of a host star passes through the atmosphere of a planet, it emits certain types of light (including light invisible to us, such as infrared and x-rays) based on what is on the planet’s surface and within the atmosphere. We can analyze this light to learn more about the planet. Through this method, we’ve discovered many interesting alien worlds.
I’ve rounded up 15 of the coolest sounding planets for you, so take a look around and pick your favorite!
A Planet Made of Diamonds
55 Cancri e is very close to its host star, and therefore very hot. Scientists also think that this planet is mainly composed of carbon. Put heat, pressure, and carbon together, and what do you get? That’s right—scientists think that 55 Cancri e may actually be an entire gas-giant sized planet that’s covered in diamonds.