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Pink Planet

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DESTINATION: GJ 504b

LOCATION: The constellation Virgo

DISTANCE: 57 light years from Earth

TIME TO REACH: 1.54 million years

WEATHER: 460°F

 

The sky outside your spacecraft’s windshield is mostly black. The planet you’re looking for is 4.65 billion miles away from its sun. Almost no light reaches it. Suddenly you see a glow in the distance. As you approach, it becomes bigger—and stranger. The light shining ahead of you is bright pink. Gliding closer, you realize what’s giving off this glow. It’s a magenta-colored planet!

 

Named GJ 504b, the planet is made of pink gas. It’s similar to Jupiter, a giant gas planet in our own solar system. But GJ 504b is four times more massive. At 460°F, it’s the temperature of a hot oven, and it’s the planet’s intense heat that causes it to glow.

 

You dip your spacecraft down to get an up close look. The sky turns a hazy pink as you enter GJ 504b’s atmosphere. Clouds made of frozen water droplets—just like clouds on Earth—float past. Since GJ 504b is made of gas, it has no solid surface. So you can fly right inside the planet, where gas envelops you like a thick fog.

 

As you go deeper, the gas begins to get darker. Slowly it turns reddish. You’re getting close to the planet’s superhot core. Suddenly an emergency light on your dashboard starts flashing. If you keep descending, your spacecraft could melt from the heat. You zoom away from this pink world and back into the darkness of outer space.

 

 

MORE FACTS

 

• Gravity on GJ 504b is 10 times stronger than it is on Earth.

 

• This planet takes 127,750 Earth days to orbit, or circle its sun once. That means one year on GJ 504b is the same as 350 years on Earth.

Text by Stephanie Warren Drimmer