Surviving core of Jupiter-like planet found near distant star

WION Web Team WASHINGTON Jul 02, 2020, 05.50 PM(IST)

Jupiter-like planet Photograph:( Reuters )

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TOI-849b, which is 39 times as massive as earth, is the largest rocky planet ever discovered. 

A planet has been spotted orbiting a distant star at breakneck speed, with astronomers concluding it may be the surviving core of a planet once perhaps larger than Jupiter that was stripped of its gaseous atmosphere.

TOI-849b, which is 39 times as massive as earth, is the largest rocky planet ever discovered and travels 10 times more quickly than Earth, completing an orbit every 18 hours.

According to researchers, this discovery offers a unique opportunity to better understand the interiors of gas giants like Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system.

“This planet could have been a gas giant like Jupiter, which then lost its outer envelope through some violent evolution. This could be because it collided with another planet towards the end of its formation, or later ventured too close to its host star and was stripped of its atmosphere,” said astronomer David Armstrong of the University of Warwick in England, lead author of the research published in the journal Nature.

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“An alternative is that the planet got stuck while forming, building up a core but failing to collect the gas we would normally expect,” he said.

The team of astronomers observed that it's located around a star much like our own, approximately 730 light-years away. TOI-849b's diameter of 43,500 km is a bit less than Neptune, the smallest of our solar system’s four gas planets. 

The team further said that the planet is much more massive than gas giant planetary cores and this might imply a new planet formation or evolution pathway. Gas planets are composed of a solid core surrounded by a vast atmosphere mostly of hydrogen and helium.

(With inputs from Reuters)