10 Most Bizarre Planets You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

Every day, NASA scans the galaxy in search of new planets, stars, and systems dispersed throughout the cosmos. We have sent many probes into space, from Voyager 1 to Juno, all with the task of first exploring our solar system and later investigating beyond it.

The Kepler spacecraft has discovered the most exoplanets, which are planets orbiting stars other than our Sun. As you’ll notice, many planets are named Kepler because of this.

Although we find tons of new exoplanets every year, many are just cold lumps of rock orbiting distant, unknown stars. Occasionally, however, a planet is found that is bizarre enough to make even the most seasoned astrophysicist gape in awe. We’ve rounded up 10 of them for you.

The Iceball Planet

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OGLE-2016-BLG-1195Lb is an icy exoplanet that can be found a whopping 13,000 light-years from our solar system. Its temperatures range from -220 degrees Celsius (-364 °F) to -186 degrees Celsius (-302 °F), which is why it’s sometimes called the “iceball planet.”

A light-year is a measure of relative distance, somewhere that’s one year away if you’re traveling at the speed of light. That speed is equal to almost 300,000 kilometers per second (186,000 mps) or over 1 billion kilometers per hour (670 million mph). So you have to travel a long way at high speed to see this huge ball of ice.

So far, the fastest speed we’ve ever reached in space occurred with New Horizons, a space probe launched in 2006 to conduct a flyby study of Pluto, its moons, and the Kuiper Belt. New Horizons sped along at over 58,000 kilometers per hour (36,000 mph), a far cry from the speed of light. So you can see that we don’t have the technology yet to visit our nearest neighboring system only a few light-years away.

That’s why we use long-range technology to discover distant exoplanets as well as to determine their mass and the makeup of their atmospheres. OGLE-2016-BLG-1195Lb was found using microlensing, a process used to discover planets when they pass in front of their stars and we see the stars dim briefly.

All the ice on OGLE-2016-BLG-1195Lb is thought to be freshwater. Although this is good, it’s unlikely that we will be able to use this water in the foreseeable future. It would take 13,000 years to get to this exoplanet traveling at the speed of light. Perhaps an advanced alien race uses this faraway planet as a source of freshwater.

The Hot One

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KELT-9b is the hottest exoplanet ever found, and it’s disappearing! At 650 light-years away from us, KELT-9b is tidally locked with its star, meaning that one side is constantly facing the star and one side is not.

The gas giant is approximately three times the size of our Jupiter and burns at a temperature of 4,315 degrees Celsius (7,800 °F). This is hotter than most stars and almost as hot as the surface of our Sun, which burns at 5,505 degrees Celsius (9,941 °F).

A few million years from now, KELT-9b will have burned off all its gases and will disappear, leaving nothing but its lonely star.

GJ 1214b
The Steamy Waterworld

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GJ 1214b is a huge “waterworld” three times the size of Earth that can be found 42 light-years away from our solar system. Earth’s water is equal to 0.05 percent of its mass, while GJ 1214b’s water contributes 10 percent of its mass!

GJ 1214b is thought to have oceans that may reach depths of as much as 1,600 kilometers (1,000 mi). In contrast, the deepest part of our own oceans is the Mariana Trench, 11 kilometers (7 mi) deep.

We’ve only explored about 5 percent of our oceans, and we’ve found countless astounding creatures that we never expected to exist. Imagine what horrors lie within the deep waters of GJ 1214b!

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