Astronomers Spot a Planet Unlike Any We've Seen Before Orbiting a Distant Star - ScienceAlert
Jul 04, 2020 1 min, 9 secs
Which, in turn, means it could be something very rare indeed - what is known as a Chthonian planet, a core of a gas giant that either had its atmosphere stripped away.

The planet in question is called TOI-849b, and it's orbiting a Sun-like star called TOI-849.

When we figure out exactly what it is, it could help us better understand what's inside the thick atmospheres of gas and ice giants, like Neptune, and the formation processes of these formidable planets.

TESS searches for exoplanets by staring at stars, using its sensitive instruments to look for regular, faint dips in their light that indicate something big, like a planet, is passing in front of the star.

How much and how often the light of the star dims allows astronomers to calculate things like how big the planet is, and how close it is to the star.

This close proximity to its star puts the exoplanet in a special category - very few Neptune-sized planets have been found close to their stars, creating what is called a hot Neptune desert.

If the mass of the star is known, astronomers can calculate the mass of the planet based on how much the star wobbles.

"But it is the most massive we know for its size, and extremely dense for something the size of Neptune, which tells us this planet has a very unusual history.


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