Connect with us

News

Astronomers Find A Fluffy Planet With the Density of a Marshmallow

Published

on

Artist impression of ultra fluffy gas giant orbiting a cool red dwarf.

Astronomers have found a planet with the average density of a marshmallow.

Along with being a big softie, scientists found that the Jupiter-sized exoplanet would also float if it were hypothetically put in a giant cosmic bathtub.

Astronomers using the Kitt Peak National Observatory telescope in Arizona, observed an unusual planet in orbit around a cool red dwarf star (more on that later).

Located approximately 580 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Auriga the Charioteer, this planet, identified as TOI-3757 b, is the lowest-density planet ever detected around a red dwarf star.

TOI-3757 b’s average density was calculated as being 0.27 grams per cubic centimeter (about 17 grams per cubic feet), which would make it less than half the density of Saturn (the lowest-density planet in the Solar System), about one quarter the density of water, or in fact, similar in density to a marshmallow.

NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite observed the crossing of this planet TOI-3757-b in front of its star, which allowed astronomers to calculate the planet’s diameter to be about 100,000 miles (150,000 kilometers) or about just slightly larger than that of Jupiter.

The planet finishes one complete orbit around its host star in just 3.5 days, 25-times less than the closest planet in our Solar System—Mercury—which takes about 88 days to do so. One might think this would be enough to “roast” our marshmallow planet.

However red dwarf stars can also be cool, or an M dwarf star.

Red dwarf stars are the smallest and dimmest members of so-called main-sequence stars—stars that convert hydrogen into helium in their cores at a steady rate. Though “cool” compared to stars like our Sun, red dwarf stars can be extremely active and erupt with powerful flares capable of stripping a planet of its atmosphere, making this star system a seemingly inhospitable location to form such a gossamer planet.

“Giant planets around red dwarf stars have traditionally been thought to be hard to form,” says Shubham Kanodia, first author on a paper published in The Astronomical Journal.

“So far this has only been looked at with small samples… which typically have found giant planets further away from these red dwarf stars. Until now we have not had a large enough sample of planets to find close-in gas planets in a robust manner.”

There are still unexplained mysteries surrounding TOI-3757 b, the big one being how a gas-giant planet can form around a red dwarf star, and especially such a low-density planet. Kanodia’s team, however, thinks they might have a solution to that mystery.

SIMILAR: Gigantic Planet Found Hidden in Plain Sight

They propose that the extra-low density of TOI-3757 b could be the result of two factors. The first relates to the rocky core of the planet; gas giants are thought to begin as massive rocky cores about ten times the mass of Earth, at which point they rapidly pull in large amounts of neighboring gas to form the gas giants we see today.

TOI-3757b’s star has a lower abundance of heavy elements compared to other M-dwarfs with gas giants, and this may have resulted in the rocky core forming more slowly, delaying the onset of gas accretion and therefore affecting the planet’s overall density.

RELATED: Huge Black Diamond Sold for $4.3 Million–and No One Knows Where it Came From or How it Was Formed

The second factor may be the planet’s orbit, which is tentatively thought to be slightly elliptical. There are times it gets closer to its star than at other times, resulting in substantial excess heating that can cause the planet’s atmosphere to bloat.

“Potential future observations of the atmosphere of this planet using NASA’s new James Webb Space Telescope could help shed light on its puffy nature,” says Jessica Libby-Roberts the second author on the paper.

“Finding more such systems with giant planets, which were once theorized to be extremely rare around red dwarfs, is part of our goal to understand how planets form,” adds Kanodia.

SHARE This Fascinating Discovery With Your Science-Loving Friends…

Continue Reading

Recent News

Exhibition Game Exhibition Game
How to1 day ago

How to Choose the Ideal Exhibition Game for Your Event

Hosting an event involves a multitude of decisions, from the venue to the catering, but one aspect that can make...

Boiler Boiler
Guide3 days ago

When Is the Best Time to Replace a Boiler?

A boiler is a workhorse that works around the clock. It provides heat and warm water whenever needed. While horses...

Grammar Grammar
Tech3 days ago

Grammar Checkers Unleashed: Enhancing Writing Precision and Efficiency

In the present computerized age, the ascent of simulated intelligence innovation has presented new difficulties in regards to the genuineness...

Crypto Staking Crypto Staking
Crypto1 week ago

Is it Possible To Make Money On Crypto Staking in 2024?

In the modern world, cryptocurrencies and blockchain technologies are becoming increasingly popular, attracting the attention of investors and users from...

Lake Como Lake Como
Wedding1 week ago

How to Choose the Right Location for a Marriage Proposal in Italy and Lake Como

Proposing marriage is a unique and memorable moment in a couple’s life. Choosing the right location is crucial to creating...

Personal Injury Lawyer Personal Injury Lawyer
Law2 weeks ago

Finding the Best Personal Injury Lawyer in Lumberton, NC

Personal injury law is designed to protect individuals who have been harmed due to the negligence or wrongful actions of...

WhatsApp Business WhatsApp Business
Business2 weeks ago

Running WhatsApp Business with Pro+VPS for Android Emulator

WhatsApp Business is one of the most powerful tool for Business to manage customers communication. Running it can enhance the...

Civil Partnership Visa Civil Partnership Visa
Finance2 weeks ago

Civil Partnership Visa vs Spouse Visa: Which One is Right for You

Choosing the right visa to join your partner in the UK can be confusing. Two common options are the Civil...

Crypto Crypto
Crypto2 weeks ago

Staked Crypto – A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners

Ethereum staking has become an increasingly popular way for cryptocurrency holders to earn passive income through staking rewards. In this...

Ethereum Staking Ethereum Staking
Crypto2 weeks ago

Maximizing Ethereum Staking Rewards: Tips and Tricks

Are you looking to maximize the potential of your Ethereum holdings? Stake Ethereum using OkayCoin and take advantage of the...