Tuesday, 18 December, 2018

KELT-11b: Puffy Gas Giant Found 320 Light Years Away

Freda Brock | 16 May, 2017, 22:14

Being a hot Jupiter, the planet is about 40 percent larger than the biggest planet in our solar system, but has an orbit very close to its star, completing one revolution in less than five days, compared to Jupiter which takes 12 years to orbit the sun once.

But in the case of KELT-11, the sub-giant's intense luminosity meant that the dip in light caused by KELT-11b's transit was barely recognisable to astronomers using the KELT (Kilodegree Extremely Little Telescope) survey - a pair of robotic telescopes located in Arizona and South Africa.

"It is highly inflated, so that while it's only a fifth as massive as Jupiter, it is almost 40 percent larger, making it about as dense as styrofoam, with an extraordinarily large atmosphere", said Joshua Pepper, astronomer and assistant professor of physics at Lehigh University, who led the study in collaboration with researchers from Vanderbilt University and Ohio State University, along with researchers at universities and observatories and amateur astronomers around the world. Though almost 40% bigger than Jupiter, it's only a fifth as massive as our backyard gas giant.

16 de mayo de 2017, 13:23Wahington, May 16 (Prensa Latina) A multinational team of astronomers led by Lehigh University researcher Joshua Pepper has discovered a ‘styrofoam"-density exoplanet orbiting the bright subgiant star KELT-11".

Most of the planets outside the solar system, something which scientists call "exoplanets", orbit around faint stars which makes measuring their properties hard.

But before that engulfment happens, the puffy planet stands to teach scientists more about its atmospheric makeup, thanks to the intense brightness generated by KELT-11.

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The star is in fact the brightest visible star in the Southern Hemisphere that's known to host a transiting planet - referring to how KELT-11b passes in between the star and Earth during its orbit. The planet itself is one of the most puffy and inflated planets in the known universe, with the density of a Styrofoam ball - the kind that students use to simulate planetary bodies in classroom presentations.

A new exoplanet has been discovered about 320 light-years away, another addition to the "hot Jupiter" category of planets.

Planets exert a slight tug on a star as they orbit it, and this can be used to measure the planet's mass. Pepper and colleagues hope to learn more once powerful telescopes like Hubble, Spitzer, and hopefully the James Webb Space Telescope, will try to peer through KELT-11b's atmosphere.

The KELT researchers set out to discover gas giant planets orbiting bright stars, but did not expect to find planets with such low mass and large sizes. As it expands, it will engulf KELT-11b and the planet will cease to exist in the course of the next hundred million years or so. But the challenge comes in finding planets with such large atmospheres. But for now, its large atmosphere makes it "an excellent testbed for measuring the atmospheres of other planets", Pepper said in the statement.

This makes it an ideal base for comparison when measuring the atmospheres of other planets in the future.

The research was supported by the National Science Foundation, NASA and a variety of universities and foundations.

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