TrES-2b is called the Dark World. Sounds like a world Sith Lords would be attracted to, right? It’s a gas giant the size of Jupiter. And it is black, to match the Sith Lords’ hearts.
Dark World is 750 light years from us. It orbits its star at a mere 3 million miles (Earth is 93 million miles from the sun), but TrES-2b is darker than pure coal or the blackest paint. It turns out that the Dark World reflects only 1% of the light that falls on it. So as we approached it, we’d see a black ball of gas, possibly with a slight red glow to it, according to one scientist.
Why is it so dark? Nobody knows, but there are some theories:
1. It has no reflective clouds due to its high temperature. All the gas giants in our system have plenty of clouds, so they reflect quite a bit of light. But a gas giant without clouds? Would that make it transparent? I’m thinking it is highly unlikely that the only gases making up any planet are clear. Iodine gas is dark purple, nitrogen dioxide is dark brown, and Trifluoronitrosomethane (I have no idea what this is or how it’s made, but apparently it’s a gas) is deep blue. That doesn’t get us to black, but what I’m saying is, How would it manage to be absolutely clear? I suppose if it was clear, most of the light would go through it and come out the other side.
But, even without a rocky core, the deeper the light goes into the gas giant, the more gravity it is subjected to. I remember from physics classes that light has properties of both waves and particles, so I’m thinking the light would get bent as it traveled through. Would that act as a prism and produce a rainbow as it came out the other side? Would we be able to see such an effect from here? I don’t know. That is a long distance, and there’s no atmosphere (to speak of) between us and it to let us see any such rainbow.
2. The dark world’s atmosphere contains chemicals that absorb light. My resident chemist being out of the house right now, I tried to google what chemicals might do that. Chlorophyll and other organic compounds absorb light, but they usually specialize. Around 2015, some biochemists learned to manipulate cholorophyll’s atomic structure so it would absorb different colors, and they got the entire range of visible light absorbed. Their inspiration was nature; a tiny creature called a sea squirt had bacteria and microbes that - between them - absorbed every bit of visible light that hit the squirt. So I suppose this is possible, but wouldn’t the planet need to be totally covered in varieties of cholorophyll, which is an organic substance. My resident chemist says that ‘organic doesn’t necessarily mean it has anything to do with life.’ Well, on Earth, cholorophyll is found in plants, bacteria and microbes, so it looks like cholorophyll has something to do with life here. Would the same be true for The Dark World?
3. It has a chemical we haven’t thought of yet. This one also seems mildly possible. I find it very difficult to comment on it, because if we haven’t even thought of this chemical, how would we have any idea what its properties are?
4. I think The Dark World is made of Dark Matter. I know, I know, Dark Matter can’t be seen, and we can (barely) see the Dark World. Maybe it’s got a bit of regular matter mixed in. I don’t really know much about Dark Matter (not enough physics classes recently), it just sounds really cool. And really, really dark. Like the Dark World!
So, which theory do you like? Now, using that theory, imagine a story where humans arrive at The Dark World to explore. It is, apparently, one of a kind. Or at least, weird.