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KELT-9B : Scientists Discover Hottest Giant Planet of the Solar System

Artist's concept shows planet KELT-9b orbiting its host star, KELT-9. Source:
  • KELT-9b is 2.8 times more massive than Jupiter, but only half as dense
  • It is the hottest gas giant planet that has ever been discovered
  • One side of the planet is always facing toward the star, and one side is in perpetual darkness

Washington June 7, 2017: Astronomers have discovered the hottest planet ever known, with a dayside temperature of more than 4,300 degrees Celsius.

In fact, this planet, called KELT-9b, is hotter than most stars, according to a study published in the journal Nature.

“This is the hottest gas giant planet that has ever been discovered,” said Scott Gaudi, Professor at the Ohio State University in Columbus who led a study.

KELT-9b is 2.8 times more massive than Jupiter, but only half as dense.

It is nowhere close to habitable, but Gaudi said there is a good reason to study worlds that are unlivable in the extreme.

“As has been highlighted by the recent discoveries from the MEarth collaboration, the planet around Proxima Centauri, and the astonishing system discovered around TRAPPIST-1, the astronomical community is clearly focused on finding Earthlike planets around small, cooler stars like our sun,” Gaudi said.

“They are easy targets and there’s a lot that can be learned about potentially habitable planets orbiting very low-mass stars in general. On the other hand, because KELT-9b’s host star is bigger and hotter than the Sun, it complements those efforts and provides a kind of touchstone for understanding how planetary systems form around hot, massive stars,” he explained.

Because the planet is tidally locked to its star — as the moon is to Earth — one side of the planet is always facing toward the star, and one side is in perpetual darkness.

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Molecules such as water, carbon dioxide and methane cannot form on the dayside because it is bombarded by too much ultraviolet radiation.

The properties of the nightside are still mysterious — molecules may be able to form there, but probably only temporarily.

“It’s a planet by any of the typical definitions of mass, but its atmosphere is almost certainly unlike any other planet we’ve ever seen just because of the temperature of its dayside,” said Gaudi, worked on this study while on sabbatical at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.

Its star, called KELT-9, is even hotter — in fact, it is probably unravelling the planet through evaporation. It is only 300 million years old, which is young in star time.

It is more than twice as large, and nearly twice as hot, as our sun.

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Given that the planet’s atmosphere is constantly blasted with high levels of ultraviolet radiation, the planet may even be shedding a tail of evaporated planetary material like a comet.

“KELT-9 radiates so much ultraviolet radiation that it may completely evaporate the planet,” said Keivan Stassun, Professor at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee.

The KELT-9b planet was found using the Kilodegree Extremely Little Telescope, or KELT. (IANS)

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NASA Reveals Plans For Future Missions To Moon

The Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway will serve NASA and its commercial and international partners as a uniquely valuable staging point

NASA to release two missions focused on moon soon in 2022. Pixabay
NASA's reveals the change in size of Jupiter's red spot. Pixabay
  • NASA can release two mid-size missions soon
  • The missions can come as early as 2022
  • The mission is undertaken to research about moon

The first of two mid-size commercial missions to the Moon for NASA could come as early as 2022, said the US space agency which is focused on increasing science activities near and on the Earth’s natural satellite and ultimately returning humans to its surface.

ISS is a permanent base for astronauts stationed in the outer sky. Wikimedia Commons
NASA will release these missions to know more about the moon. Wikimedia Commons

As part of US President Donald Trump’s fiscal year 2019 budget proposals, NASA is planning a new Moon-focused exploration campaign that starts with a series of progressive commercial robotic missions.

“The Moon will play an important role in expanding human presence deeper into the solar system,” Bill Gerstenmaier, Associate Administrator of the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington said in a statement on Thursday.

Also Read: NASA’s Curiosity Rover Tests New Drill Method On Mars

“Coupled with the capabilities enabled by the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway, these missions will usher in a new era of exploration of the Moon and its resources, and provide a training ground for human missions to Mars,” Gerstenmaier added.

NASA said it plans to enlist a series of commercial robotic landers and rockets to meet lunar payload delivery and service needs.

The agency intends to release a draft request for proposals this spring to initiate commercial lunar payload service contracts for surface delivery as early as 2019.

The mission has garnered support from almost everywhere. IANS
The mission has garnered support from almost everywhere. IANS

NASA already has partnerships with three US companies that are advancing technologies to deliver cargo payloads to the lunar surface.

The partners — Astrobotic Technology of Pittsburgh; Masten Space Systems of Mojave, California; and Moon Express of Cape Canaveral, Florida — began work in 2014 under NASA’s Lunar Cargo Transportation and Landing by Soft Touchdown (Lunar CATALYST) initiative.

The original three-year agreements were amended to extend the work for another two years.

The Lunar CATALYST partnerships have helped advance commercial capabilities to deliver small payloads to the lunar surface.

But the agency is also interested in understanding and developing requirements for future human landers.

By developing landers with mid-size payload capacity (500 to 1,000 kg — roughly the size of a smart car) first, this will allow evolution toward large-scale human-rated lunar landers (5,000 to 6,000 kg).

Additionally, this class of lander can support larger payloads to the Moon addressing science and exploration objectives such as sample return, resource prospecting, demonstrations of in-situ resource utilisation (ISRU), and others.

The agency said it would seek information from industry later this month for larger lander development, and determine how best to proceed with potential partnerships.

This research can be groundbreaking as moon is considered important for growth of humans.

NASA plans to follow that effort with a solicitation to enable the partnerships between NASA and industry. The agency is also planning to build a lunar outpost in the 2020s.

The Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway will serve NASA and its commercial and international partners as a uniquely valuable staging point and communications relay for exploration and science missions in deep space, the agency said. IANS