National Post (Latest Edition)
Planet ‘most extreme’ ever found
As the study of planets outside our solar system continues, astronomers have discovered what they have described as the ‘ most extreme planet’ ever observed, with surface temperatures more blistering than those of some stars.
Researchers at the University of Bern say that the exoplanet, dubbed WASP-189B, is a gaseous giant 1.6 times larger than Jupiter and can record temperatures of up to 3,200 C, hot enough to melt all rocks and metal and turn them into gaseous form.
The planet, they said, orbits the star HD 133112, known to be one of the hottest stars with a planetary system 2,000 C hotter than our sun.
Despite being an enormous gaseous giant, WASP189b is situated much closer to its star than Jupiter is to the sun, and so only take 2.7 days to orbit its star, with one side experiencing a permanent ‘ night’ and the other a permanent ‘day’.
“WASP-189B is especially interesting because it is a gas giant that orbits very close to its host star,” astrophysicist Monika Lendl said, according to the university’s press release. “It takes less than three days for it to circle its star, and it is 20 times closer to it than Earth is to the Sun.”
The exoplanet is located 326 light years away and much too close to its star to be able to observe it directly. Researchers used the Characterising Exoplanet Satellite ( CHEOPS) space telescope, owned by the European Space Agency to be able to record high precise brightness measurements detecting the planet’s movements.
By observing the exoplanet’s occultations — passing behind the star — and transits — passing in front of the star — scientists gathered data on the brightness, size, temperature and movements of the planet, as well as some information on the star it orbits.
Lendi called the planet an “ultrahot Jupiter,” on which the burning temperatures are so high that they can melt iron and turn it into a gas. While the planet is not as hot as the Sun, which burns at a temperature of 6,000 C, researchers say the observed temperatures match those found on some small dwarf stars.
“Only a handful of planets are known to exist around stars this hot, and this system is by far the brightest,” Lendi said.
“WASP- 189b is also the brightest hot Jupiter that we can observe as it passes in front of or behind its star, making the whole system really intriguing.”