This young planet is slowly being destroyed by its sun

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The exoplanet is slowly being destroyed due to the tight and quick orbit around its sun.

An exoplanet discovered only a few years ago by astronomers is in trouble. PTFO8-8695b or ‘hot Jupiter’ is relatively young at only 2 million years old but it is already suffering from the effects of its sun which is currently stripping away at its gaseous atmosphere.

The reason is its orbit which only takes 11 hours and allows the exoplanet to come exceptionally close to its star.

“A handful of known planets are in similarly small orbits,” states astronomer Christopher Johns-Krull from Rice University, “but because this star is only 2 million years old this is one of the most extreme examples.”

At the time of discovering PTFO8-8695b, Johns-Krull and his team were unsure of what they found but on closer inspection and with a year’s data in one night – since its year is only 11 Earth hours – believe that this could be a very young planet.

“We don’t yet have absolute proof this is a planet because we don’t yet have a firm measure of the planet’s mass, but our observations go a long way toward verifying this really is a planet,” Johns-Krull added. “We compared our evidence against every other scenario we could imagine, and the weight of the evidence suggests this is one of the youngest planets yet observed.”

The fate of the baby planet is currently unknown. While observations are being carried out, they know it’s being slowly destroyed but are unsure how long it will take.

“We don’t know the ultimate fate of this planet,” Johns-Krull explained. “It likely formed farther away from the star and has migrated in to a point where it’s being destroyed. We know there are close-orbiting planets around middle-aged stars that are presumably in stable orbits. What we don’t know is how quickly this young planet is going to lose its mass and whether it will lose too much to survive.”

The research, conducted at the University of Texas at Austin’s McDonald and Kitt Peak National Observatories, is to be published in The Astrophysical Journal.

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