A new planet has been discovered, and apparently it’s very soft – like candy floss.
The exoplanet, WASP-193b, was discovered 1,232 light-years away, and although it is about 50 percent larger than Jupiter, it is light, fluffy, and dense like a sweet confection.
According to a team led by astronomer Khaled Barkaoui of the University of Liege in Belgium, the planet orbits a Sun-like star called WASP-193. This star is very close to the Sun in temperature and age, with a mass of 1.1 times that of the Sun and a radius of 1.2 times that of the Sun. This planet orbits the star once in 6.25 days.
Barkaoui and colleagues found that its radius is 1.46 times that of Jupiter. But its mass is incredibly small in comparison: only 0.139 times that of Jupiter.
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From these properties, the researchers derived the exoplanet’s density: 0.059 grams per cubic centimeter. It is much less dense than other planets like Jupiter and Earth. As a point of comparison, cotton candy has a density of 0.05 grams per cubic centimeter, which is why they made the link.
There are few other examples of a planet like this existing, but its proximity to a star may provide a clue to how it formed, as its heat likely warms the planet’s atmosphere, which is mostly made up of hydrogen and helium.
This state of the planet would last for only about ten million years, as the temperature and winds emitted by the star would pull the atmosphere further back.
Because of this, scientists cannot fully reproduce or determine what causes WASP-193b’s unique atmosphere, but it is likely to be a source of further study to try to find the cause of this phenomenon.
However, you may not find this planet being sold at fairgrounds anytime soon.
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