Strange New Worlds

Explore intriguing worlds in our galaxy

The first planets beyond our solar system, exoplanets, were discovered in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Since then, we've discovered thousands more. Here are a few of our favorites.

Illustration of a planet backlit by two stars, one larger and one smaller.

Kepler-16b - 1 planet, 2 stars

Discovered 2011: Kepler-16b is a world where two suns set over the horizon instead of just one, the first Tatooine-like planet found in our galaxy.

Kepler-22b - Possible water world

Discovered 2011: A possible ocean world orbiting in the habitable zone—the region around a star where the temperature is right for liquid water, a requirement for life on Earth.

Kepler-7b - First to be cloud-mapped

Discovered 2009: A massive world called a hot Jupiter, Kepler-7b was the first exoplanet to have its clouds mapped.

Illustration of grayish exoplanet shrouded in shadow.

Kepler-452 b - Earth's older cousin

Discovered 2015: An "Earth-cousin" that orbits a star like our sun in the habitable zone, where liquid water could exist.

Illustration of bright orange and yellow exoplanet.

KELT-9 b - Hotter than most stars

Discovered 2017: KELT-9b is so hot that the heat tears molecules apart on the dayside.

Illustration of a star interacting with a doomed planet that is being stretched into a egg shape by gravity.

WASP-12 b - Being eaten by parent star

Discovered 2008: The doomed planet WASP-12b is a hot Jupiter that orbits so close to its parent star, it's being torn apart. It takes this alien world only 1.1 days to completely circle its Sun.

Illustration of a bright star rising above a lava ocean.

55 Cancri e - Lava ocean, sparkling skies

Discovered 2004: This super hot world is covered in a global ocean of lava and has sparkling skies.

TYC 8998-760-1 b - Planet or failed star?

Discovered 2020: This object, a brown dwarf or perhaps a large planet, joins an exclusive club: those that have been directly imaged.

Illustration of darkened planet with a star peeking over its limb.

GJ 15 A b - Super-heated Super-Earth

Discovered 2014: GJ 15 A b orbits a red-dwarf star just 11 light-years away with its companion GJ 15 A c, making them our nearest multi-planet neighbors discovered so far.

Illustration of a bluish-green planet orbiting a distant star.

GJ 15 A c - Only 11 light-years away

Discovered 2018: Nearby GJ 15 A c orbits a red-dwarf star just 11 light-years away with its companion, making them our nearest multi-planet neighbors discovered so far.

Kepler-36 b - Bizarrely close neighbors

Discovered 2012: Kepler-36b and its companion planet, Kepler-36c, are far too close to their sun to be in the habitable zone, and they are bizarrely close to each other.

GJ 504 b - Magnificently magenta

If we could travel to this giant planet, we would see a world still glowing from the heat of its formation with a color reminiscent of a dark cherry blossom, a dull magenta.

Illustration of a close planet as seen from the limb of a star.

GJ 436 b - Mysteriously missing methane

Discovered 2004: A close exoplanet with a secret: a lack of methane on this hot world. GJ 436 b is a Neptune-sized exoplanet that orbits an M-type star. Its mass is 22.1 Earths.

TOI-849 b - Atmosphere destroyed by star

Discovered 2020: A world called TOI 849 b could be the exposed, naked core of a gas giant whose atmosphere was blasted away by its star.

AU Microscopii b - Infant solar system

Discovered 2020: Located less than 32 light-years from Earth, AU Microscopii is among the youngest planetary systems ever observed by astronomers, and its star throws vicious temper tantrums!

Illustration of a darkened world lit by the light of a distant star.

PSR B1257+12 b - Doomed world

Discovered 1994: PSR B1257+12 b, along with fellow doomed worlds, were among the first and creepiest to be discovered as they orbit an undead star known as a pulsar. Pulsar planets like Poltergeist and its neighboring worlds, Phobetor and Draugr, are consumed with constant radiation from the star’s core.

HD 189733 b - Rains glass

Discovered 2005: This far-off blue planet may look like a friendly haven – but don’t be deceived! Weather here is deadly. The planet’s cobalt blue color comes from a hazy, blow-torched atmosphere containing clouds laced with glass. Howling winds send the storming glass sideways at 5,400 mph (2km/s), whipping all in a sickening spiral. It’s death by a million cuts on this slasher planet!

Illustration of bright orange and yellow exoplanet.

KOI-55 b - Hotter than the Sun

Discovered 2011: Kepler-70b (aka KOI-55) could well be another circle of hell with an average temperature hotter than the Sun’s surface. It used to be Jupiter-sized until it spent some time inside its now-dead star…a trip that destroys most planets, but left this one a Freddy Krueger-like burned world smaller than Earth. At about 12,000 degrees F (6,800 C), it is one of the hottest planets discovered. In fact, the planet itself is evaporating, soon to be another victim.

Illustration of mottled, pinkish exoplanet

HD 17156 b - AKA Mulchatna

Discovered 2007: A giant planet composed mostly of gas. Also given the name Mulchatna, for a river in Alaska that supports indigenous and native populations.

GJ 1132 b - On its second atmosphere

Discovered 2015: GJ 1132 b may have begun as a mini-Neptune, but is now a rocky world a little bigger than Earth. The planet may have lost one atmosphere but gained another from volcanic activity.

Illustarion of Bluish planet orbiting two stars.

TIC 172900988 b - Rare double transit discovery

Discovered 2021: This planet about as big around as Jupiter belongs to a system that’s a stunner. The planet orbits two stars and, viewed from Earth, crosses the faces of both. That means this system puts on quite a show!

WASP-96 b - Hot and puffy with a signature of water

Discovered 2014: An international team found that WASP-96 b is a world with a sodium rich atmosphere. The planet, located nearly 1,150 light-years from Earth, orbits its star every 3.4 days. It has about half the mass of Jupiter, and its discovery was announced in 2014.

An artist's concerns concept illustration shows a fiery red star at left with a close exoplanet at against the star-filled background of space.

TOI-3757 b - Marshmallow planet

Discovered 2022: A gas giant exoplanet with the density of a marshmallow has been detected in orbit around a cool red dwarf. TOI-3757 b, is the lowest-density planet ever detected around a red dwarf star (2022).

Illustration shows a darkened planet with dim reddish hues in the atmosphere.

TrES-2 b - Eternal Night

Are you afraid of the dark? Welcome to TrEs-2b, the planet of eternal night. The darkest planet ever discovered orbiting a star, this alien world is less reflective than coal. Inside its atmosphere, you’d be flying blind in the dark. Some scientists think an eerie deep red glow would emanate from its burning atmosphere.