An exoplanet “Super puff” is as large as Jupiter but 10 times lighter, which confuses astronomers

About 212 light-years from Earth, a gas giant planet light enough to be called “Super Puff” or “Spinning Girl” is orbiting very close to its host star. The Exoplanet It’s so light that it left astronomers wondering everything we previously knew about how gas giants formed.

That’s super puff ExoplanetKnown K. WASP-107bIt is roughly the same size as Jupiter, but only about a tenth of the mass – or about 30 times the mass of Earth. According to a new study published Monday in The Astronomical Journal, Its fundamental mass is much smaller than what astronomers thought was necessary to create gas giants such as Jupiter and Saturn.

The discovery made by Dr. Student Caroline Biaolet under the direction of Professor Bjorn Pinicki at the University of Montreal notes that gas giants form much more easily than previously thought.

“This study pushes the boundaries of our theoretical understanding of how giant planets form. WASP-107b is one of the most bulging planets out there, and we need an innovative solution to explain how these tiny nuclei can build such massive gas shells,” said co-author Yves Lee in a statement.

WASP-107b is not a completely new discovery – astronomers first discovered it in the constellation Virgo in 2017. The planet is very close to its star, more than 16 times from Earth to the Sun, and completes one orbit every 5.7 days.

WASP-107b is one of the least dense exoplanets scientists have ever discovered. They called similar types of planets – massively gas giants girls hair – Supernatural puffs.

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csm-20210118-exo-planete-d9b8a041b4.jpg
Art rendering of WASP-107b exoplanet and its star WASP-107. Some of the star’s light flows through the layer of gas on an exoplanet.

ESA / HUBBLE, NASA, M. KORNMESSER


To find the planet’s surprising mass, astronomers studied observations obtained at the Keck Observatory in Hawaii. They used a technique called the radial velocity method, which studies the oscillatory motion of a planet’s star caused by the planet’s gravitational pull, in order to calculate the mass.

Scientists were shocked when they concluded that the solid core of WASP-107b has a mass no more than four times the mass of Earth, meaning that more than 85% of its mass originates from the thick gaseous layer surrounding the core. This is a completely different collapse from Neptune, which has a similar mass but only maintains 5% to 15% of it within its gas layer.

Based on their knowledge of Jupiter and Saturn, scientists previously believed that a solid core at least 10 times the mass of Earth was needed to obtain enough gas to form a gas giant planet. The WASP-107b challenges this theory.

“This work deals with the foundations that explain how giant planets form and grow,” says Benicki He said. “It provides concrete evidence that the massive accumulation of the gas coat can occur to nuclei that are much less dense than previously thought.”

Lee assumes, “The most plausible scenario is that the planet formed far from the star, with the gas in the disk cool enough that the gas build-up could happen very quickly. The planet was later able to move to its present location, either through interactions with the disk or With other planets in the system. “

While studying the planet, the team found another planet in the same system, WASP-107c. Its mass is about one-third of the mass of Jupiter and it takes three years to orbit its host star once.

The planet’s elliptical orbit indicates that astronomers’ new hypothesis is on track.

“The WASP-107c, in some ways, retained a memory of what happened in its system,” said Biaolit. “Its large aberration indicates a somewhat chaotic past, with interplanetary interactions that would otherwise have resulted in large displacements, such as those suspected in WASP-107b.”

The team hopes to continue studying the alien planet with launch James Webb Space Telescope this year.

Angelica Johnson

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