Folsom Lake College's Online Newspaper
by Jacob Peterson
For as long as people have been on this planet they have looked up at the sky and wondered what was up there. In the last hundred years, humanity has made leaps and bounds in our knowledge of space, and one of the greatest discoveries we’ve made has been the strange, alien planets from beyond our solar system. Everyone knows about the planets that circle our sun, (and Pluto), but there are some that defy logic.
One of the most well known of these planets is the diamond planet, 55 Cancri e. As its nickname suggests, a significant portion of the planet, (roughly one third), is made of solid diamond. Found by scientists in 2011, Cancri e owes its strange composition to a high amount of carbon on the surface as well as incredibly strong gravity. Don’t get too excited though, as the planet is not only forty light-years away, but the surplus of diamonds, if we were able to mine it, would crash the diamond market like a car hitting a brick wall.
Another bizarre planet out there is Gliese 436 b, discovered back in 2004. What makes this planet so strange, you might ask? Well, to put it bluntly, it’s a ball of ice that's constantly on fire. Yes, you read that correctly, this alien world roughly the size of Neptune is believed to contain a large amount of a exotic hot-water ice called Ice-X, able to withstand blistering hot temperatures. Another theory is that the gravity on the planet is so strong that water vapor is compressed to the point of becoming solid. Whatever the cause is, it’s definitely strange to say the least.
To wrap this up, let’s talk a little about the planet known as Kepler 452 b, which as far as our knowledge goes, is the closest to matching Earth as any planet we’ve discovered. This planet resides in what is known as “the Goldilocks Zone”. It’s not too hot, but not too cold, making it an ideal temperature for human life. But it’s not all great. The planet, which orbits a sun roughly 1.5 billion years older than ours, could be a view of the future of Earth , as the rocky planet appears to have had all of its lakes and oceans evaporated by its dying sun. On the bright side, scientists predict that it will be roughly one billion years before our planet reaches that point, so unless you’ve recently discovered the secret to immortality, you don’t need to worry about it.
Our universe is a vast and amazing place, to the point where the human brain can’t even comprehend just how large it is. And while we have made huge leaps in our knowledge of science and space, we are still able to find these wonders out there that completely defy the logic we’ve worked up. Only time will tell what we’ll find next.
FLC Main: FR-108