The fraction of light that an object reflects is called its ‘albedo’. Most planets have a low albedo, either because they have an atmosphere that absorbs a lot of light, or because their surface is dark or rough. Earth, for example, only reflects around 30% of incoming sunlight. Exceptions tend to be frozen ice-worlds, or planets like Venus which have a cloud layer (reflecting 75% of the Sun’s light in Venus’ case).
LTT9779 b’s 80% of albedo came as a surprise because the planet’s side facing its star is estimated to be around 2000 °C. Any temperature above 100 °C is too hot for clouds of water to form, but the temperature of this planet’s atmosphere should even be too hot for clouds made of metal or glass.
LTT9779 b can form metallic clouds despite being so hot because the atmosphere is oversaturated with silicate and metal vapours.
📹 ESA – European Space Agency
🖥️ Ricardo Ramírez Reyes/Universidad de Chile
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