When we look to the stars, a common hope is that we find planets like our own, capable of supporting life as we know it. However, the search for habitable Earth-like planets requires a lot of patience, since the conditions necessary to support life are rare. In fact, the space beyond our planet is home to some of the most unhospitable places you can dream of. As the unlikely search for planets that might support life continues, here are ten planets with conditions too dangerous for any kind of life.
10 hypothetical planets that could exist in our solar system
The search for Earth-like planets is something scientists will probably always be working on. In 2013, two research teams identified a planet called Kepler-78b that is roughly the same size, density, and composition as Earth. It has a radius of only 1.2 times that of Earth and is rocky. The only drawback is that it is so unnaturally close to its star that its rocky composition has completely liquefied. With one of the tightest known orbits, it goes around its star in just 8.5 hours. As Earth-like as this planet is in some ways, there’s no way anyone could survive on this molten ball of speed.
9 Gliese 581g
Gliese 581g is one of the best candidates for a life-supporting planet. It is nearly the size of Earth and orbits within its star’s Habitable Zone, which is the area around a star where planets could have the conditions necessary to support life as we know it. However, this planet is tidally locked, which means that the same side of the planet always faces its star as it orbits. This means that the most habitable area is the strip of the planet directly between day and night. Although this planet is technically habitable, both sides of this planet offer incredibly deadly alternatives. Either side of Gliese 581g is in frigid darkness or perpetual daylight. Traveling too far in the wrong direction here could result in a frozen or burned tomb.
8 HD 189773b
HD 189773b is a Jupiter-sized exoplanet and is 30 times closer to its star than Earth is to the sun. The atmosphere of this planet is slowly evaporating due to intense X-ray and ultraviolet radiation from its star, losing around 100 million to 600 million kilograms per second. HD 189773b is also the first exoplanet for which scientists have been able to confirm the color. It was determined that the planet would be blue, much like Earth. Although the color of this exoplanet comes from the refraction of light through silicate particles in the air, which due to the heat of the planet can condense into glass. With winds estimated at 4,000 miles per hour (6,437.4 km/h), the crystal of HD 189773b’s atmosphere is churning like a sideways rainstorm. With glass shot through the air, a trip to HD 189773b would be like a trip through a paper shredder.
7 PSR B1257+12 b, c and d
This system of three planets experiences situations almost identical to each other. The night skies of PSR B1257+12 b, c and d are illuminated by incredible aurorae like the aurora borealis on Earth. However, this is due to the massive amounts of radiation that its star is constantly spewing onto the planets. This is due to the star itself, which has become a pulsar. A pulsar is a star that has undergone a supernova, leaving behind a much smaller and denser dead star that rotates rapidly and emits impressive amounts of radiation. PSR B1257+12 b, c, and d are speculated to be second-generation planets, meaning they formed from the remains of planets destroyed by the star’s initial supernova. A vacation on any of these three pulsar orbiters would cause anyone to die of radiation sickness.
At five and a half times the mass of Earth, the planet OGLE-2005-BLG-390L b is another rocky exoplanet far from our solar system. As ridiculous as the name OGLE-2005-BLG-390L b is, the reality of this planet is much more chilling, literally. This planet orbits a small dwarf star at a rate that makes only one orbit every 10 Earth years. This planet is absolutely cold with an estimated surface temperature of -364 degrees Fahrenheit (-220 Celsius). OGLE-2005-BLG-390L b is much less of a winter wonderland and more of a winter wasteland, as you’re likely to freeze to death if you ever try to take a ski trip here.
5 GJ 1214b
There’s nothing better than a good trip to the sauna, unless of course the sauna is a whole planet of inescapable steam. GJ 1214b is a super-Earth planet about 6 times as massive as Earth and appears to be a real-life water world with an interior likely made of ice. Although the surface is made up of water, it would not look as familiar as our planet’s oceans. GJ 1214b likely does not have liquid water, but due to heat and atmospheric pressures, it would instead have layers of hot ice or even water acting in a plasma state. A day trip to this world of steam baths would open your pores just before killing you with steam burns.
Officially named HD 209458b, this hot Jupiter-like planet has been nicknamed Osiris after the Egyptian god who lost part of his body after being cut down by his brother. This name comes from the fact that this is the first exoplanet discovered with an atmosphere of evaporating hydrogen. With the trail of evaporated hydrogen escaping into space, the oxygen and carbon surrounding the plant have been stretched out in a similar way to a rugby ball. Even with the presence of oxygen in Osiris’s atmosphere, evaporation and atmospheric exhaust would suffocate him fairly quickly, but not before burning up in the nearly 2,000-degree Fahrenheit (1093,333 Celsius) heat.
Space is black enough, but the darkest planet discovered, TrES-2b, is almost completely black with an eerie red glow. TrES-2b is the size of Jupiter, but its atmosphere is proposed to be composed of light-absorbing vaporized sodium and potassium, or titanium oxide gas, as opposed to the ammonia clouds in Jupiter’s atmosphere responsible for reflecting light . This is because this planet is 30 times closer to its star than Earth is to the sun, heating the atmosphere to more than 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit (982.2222 Celsius). This incredible heat is also responsible for the red glow the planet emits. If you are afraid of the dark, not even a flashlight could help you calm your fear on this planet, so you will be scared until such time as the hot lava atmosphere burns you.
This exoplanet is probably the closest thing we’ll ever see to a giant egg cooked in space. In 2008, NASA scientists identified this strange extrasolar planet that orbits so close to its sun-like star that the sun’s gravity stretches it into the shape of an egg. This planet, designated WASP 12-b, is a gas giant about twice the size of Jupiter. It flies around its sun so incredibly close that it completes one revolution in just 1.1 Earth days, and the heat is so intense that it can reach 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit (2,204.444 Celsius). As its sun tugs on the planet, scientists have noticed that a cloud of material is being blown off the planet. WASP-12b is literally being consumed by its star as the massive gravitational force tears away the giant planet’s atmosphere. WASP-12b is estimated to be completely devoured within 10 million years. Staying on this planet would mean being cooked alive and then eaten by the sun like a plate of scrambled eggs.
2004 marked the discovery of 55 Cancri e, a tidally locked planet about eight times as massive as Earth. Later named Janssen, this planet has puzzled scientists as a wild card of potential deadly threats. The nature of Janssen is a bit of a mystery, with possible explanations for its existence as a planet-wide layer of lava, an Earth-like atmosphere as dense as the atmosphere of Venus, an exclusively dayside atmosphere, or even an ultra hot aquatic world. One thing is certain though, no matter the nature of this planet, it is still incredibly hot. As is typical for tidally locked planets, Janssen’s dayside is burning at 4,200 degrees Fahrenheit (2,315,556 Celsius). However, the night side is not frozen, but rather gets half the heat of the day side, something you won’t really notice while being cooked alive. You may not know exactly what deadly horror awaits you when you visit this planet, but the possibilities are only terrifying until the planet’s heat kills you.
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