One of the least discovered exoplanets ever discovered is even less dense than previously thought. This is suggested by a study that was accepted for publication in the Astronomical Journal.
The work, first authored by Caroline Piaulet of the University of Montreal, Canada, showed that the planet known as WASP-107b, although of a diameter comparable to Jupiter, is less than a tenth the mass of the largest planet System solar.
The result is the result of four years of observations with the HIRES spectrograph at the Keck Observatory in Hawaii. With the instrument, astronomers can measure the gravitational fluctuation induced by the planet on its star, which is directly related to its mass. The diameter, on the other hand, is extrapolated from the transits that the world makes in front of its star.
WASP-107b walks every 5.7 days around its sun, which is slightly smaller than ours, and its “large and very light” nature defies models of planetary formation. It is estimated that at its core it would have a mass less than five times the mass of the earth, which according to calculations would not be enough to aggregate a large envelope of gas around it. And yet it’s there, with an expansive atmosphere that makes it Jupiter-sized, with an estimated 85% hydrogen and helium gas making up its mass. It’s a mystery.
Keck’s data also showed the presence of a second planet, larger and in an eccentric and wider orbit, spanning three Earth years.
WASP-107b has long fascinated astronomers, and it is there that they first discovered the presence of helium in the atmosphere of an exoplanet with the help of Hubble in 2018. For the future, this strange world must remain a preferred destination, the existence of which can be of great importance for understanding how giant gas planets are born and develop.
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