Shaped Exoplanet Discovered By NASA's Hubble Space Telescope


The researchers already knew WASP-121b was among the most extreme exoplanets ever discovered, so on two separate occasions, they aimed the Hubble Space Telescope at the planet as it passed in front of its star, to see how ultraviolet (UV) light interacted with the planet's atmosphere. The intense heat from its nearby star has made WASP-121b puff up like a marshmallow. "This is a planet being actively stripped of its atmosphere", said David Sing of Johns Hopkins University, lead researcher for a paper on WASP-121b published in The Astronomical Journal. The Exoplanet catalogue number WASP-121b orbiting a sun in the constellation of the aft deck (Puppis) in the southern sky.

Observations like these seem to point to astronomers being on the right track about hot Jupiters losing mass.

The sizzling planet is so close to its star that it is on the cusp of being ripped apart by the star's gravity.

The Planet due to its mass and temperature to the class of Hot Jupiter.

"Although they're rare, they really stand out once you've found them", Deming added. "This presents an opportunity to observe and understand some very interesting physics". The escaping magnesium and iron gas may also contribute to the temperature spike. In most gas giants - even hot Jupiters - that would be largely hydrogen and helium. It can tell the planet is very hot because it has heavy metals that are escaping from the atmosphere of the planet rather than condensing into clouds. Additionally, the exoplanet is also described as "so big and puffy" that its gravity is relatively weak compared to other planets, making it easier for the gases to escape.

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Normally, hot Jupiter planets are still cool enough inside to condense heavier elements such as magnesium and iron into clouds that remain in the planet's atmosphere.

The temperature of its upper atmosphere was measured to reach 4,600 degrees Fahrenheit (2,537 degrees Celsius).

"Hot Jupiters are mostly made of hydrogen, and Hubble is very sensitive to hydrogen, so we know these planets can lose the gas relatively easily", Dr. Sing said. When planets form, they gather an atmosphere containing gas from the disk in which the planet and star formed. As the planet moves closer to its star, much of this early atmosphere burns off and escapes to space. Yet the hot exoplanet still has an atmosphere. The short period means that these planets are very close to their stars, usually less than 0.1 AU, one tenth of the distance between the Earth and the Sun. Cape Canaveral space freighter "Dragon" launches to the ISS North Dakota biology Student finds a 65 million year old Triceratops skull Study of the University of Bern climate change has always existed - why this is different than all previously tips and Tricks What do dogs, Cats and rabbits against heat helps search game this is a picture of 16 animals hide - recognize them all?

"We picked this planet because it is so extreme", Sing said.