Newborn Planet Is Getting Destroyed By Its Own Star

Posted: Jun 11 2016, 1:57am CDT | by , Updated: Jun 12 2016, 9:48pm CDT, in News | Latest Science News


Newborn Planet is Getting Destroyed by its Own Star
An illustration of likely new giant planet PTFO8-8695 b which is orbit a star in the constellation Orion every 11 hours. Credit: Rice University

The young planet is so tigthly orbiting around its host star that it's outer layers are being torn apart by its star's gravity.

Astronomers have discovered a potentially young planet that is getting some serious sunburn. 

The newfound planet named PTFO8-8695 b is twice as massive as Jupiter and orbits a star 1,100 light years away from the Earth. The so-called hot Jupiter is so close to its host star that it relentlessly rips off its outer layers and deprives it from its atmosphere. It takes the plant just 11 hours to complete a single orbit around the star which is incredibly rare for a young planet.

"A handful of known planets are in similarly small orbits, but because this star is only 2 million years old this is one of the most extreme examples,” said lead author Christopher Johns-Krull from Rice University. “We don’t yet have absolute proof this is a planet because we don’t yet have a firm measure of the planet’s mass, but our observations go a long way toward verifying this really is a planet.”

“We compared our evidence against every every other scenario we could imagine, and the weight of the evidence suggests this is one of the youngest planets yet observed.”

Scientists are not sure what caused the planet to orbit so close it to its host star. They suggest that the planet likely formed away from the star but possibly reached to the point after being nudged by another object. 

On the basis of the observations, scientists suggest that the planet will likely lose all or most of its mass but when it’s going to happen it is not yet estimated. 

When PTFO8-8695 was discovered in 2012, it was taken as the candidate to be classified as a planet. At that time, researchers noticed regular dimming in the brightness of the star it orbits. This dimming happens when planet transits or passes in front of the host star and briefly blocks its light in our line of sight from Earth. This feature allowed researchers to apply “transit method,” a technique which measures the regular dips of the star as a planet transits between it and the Earth and help determine both the presence and radius of the planet.

“In 2012, there was no solid evidence for planets around 2 million-year-old stars. Light curves and variations of this star presented an intriguing technique to confirm or refute such a plane,” coauthor Lisa Prato said. “The other thing that was very intriguing about it was that the orbital period was only 11 hours. That meant we wouldn’t have to come back night after night after night, year after year after year. We could potentially see something happen in one night. So that’s what we did. We just sat on the star for a whole night.” 

Of 3,300 exoplanets discovered, there are very few that orbit around young and extremely bright stars, making it difficult for scientists to observe them in detail with existing telescopes. 

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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