NASA / JPL-CALTECH / T. PYLE (SSC) / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY NASA / JPL-CALTECH / T. PYLE (SSC) / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
This artist's animation illustrates the hottest planet yet observed in the universe. The scorching ball of gas, a 'hot Jupiter' called HD 149026b, is a sweltering 3,700 degrees Fahrenheit (2,040 degrees Celsius) - about three times hotter than the rocky surface of Venus, the hottest planet in our solar system. The planet is so hot that astronomers believe it is absorbing almost all of the heat from its star, and reflecting very little to no light. Objects that reflect no sunlight are black. Consequently, HD 149026b might be the blackest known planet in the universe, in addition to the hottest. HD 149026b is located 256 light-years away in the constellation Hercules. It is the smallest known transiting planet, with a size similar to Saturn's and a suspected dense core 70 to 90 times the mass of Earth. It speeds around its star every 2.9 days.
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