JUL 05, 2020 3:35 PM PDT

Astronomers Spot Exposed Planetary Core for First Time

WRITTEN BY: Annie Lennon

For the first time, astronomers have spotted a planet with an exposed core. Known as TOI-849b, the finding could help us better understand how planets form and how they evolve.

TOI-849b was detected by NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), launched to orbit Earth in April 2018. So far, it has discovered over 50 planets outside of our solar system, alongside over 2000 yet-to-be-confirmed planetary-suspects. 

According to observations with TESS, TOI-849b, located in the orbit region known as the 'Neptunian desert', is extremely close to its host star- and thus able to complete one lap of it every 18 hours. At two to three times the size of Neptune, and at around 39 Earth masses, its surface temperature is an estimated 2,780 degrees Fahrenheit (or 1,530 degrees Celsius). 

"We would expect a planet this massive to have accreted large quantities of hydrogen and helium when it formed, growing into something similar to Jupiter. The fact that we don't see those gases lets us know this is an exposed planetary core," says David Armstrong, the lead author of the study reporting TOI-849b's exposed core. "This is the first time that we've discovered an intact exposed core of a gas giant around a star."

Why exactly TOI-849b's core is exposed is a mystery. One possibility is that the planet was a gas giant in the past but somehow lost its atmosphere. Due to the planet's orbital location, the researchers say that although its orbital location in proximity to its host star is intense, it's not enough to strip away a part of the gas giant's atmosphere. 

"I think the key clue is that TOI-849b lies in the Neptunian desert, which hints at a rare history. That suggests to me one of the more unusual or aggressive pathways, perhaps tidal disruption or an impact during the formation process, but we need more study to be sure." says Armstrong. 

 

Sources: Space.comScience News 

About the Author
  • Science writer with keen interests in technology and behavioral biology. Her current focus is on the interplay between these fields to create meaningful interactions, applications and environments.
You May Also Like
MAR 17, 2020
Space & Astronomy
This Supermassive Black Hole Ejected Matter Faster Than 99% the Speed of Light
MAR 17, 2020
This Supermassive Black Hole Ejected Matter Faster Than 99% the Speed of Light
Almost a year ago, astronomers released the first true image of a black hole. All efforts were focused on a supermassive ...
MAR 23, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Here's Why the Planets Orbit the Sun How They Do
MAR 23, 2020
Here's Why the Planets Orbit the Sun How They Do
All the solar system’s planets follow nearly the same plane and direction as they orbit the Sun, and this is somet ...
APR 30, 2020
Earth & The Environment
NASA's Laser Satellites Help Scientists Quantify Sea Ice Loss
APR 30, 2020
NASA's Laser Satellites Help Scientists Quantify Sea Ice Loss
Global climate change is melting Earth’s ice, and a recent study from NASA details how the polar ice sheets have c ...
MAY 12, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Here's What Would Happen if You Fired a Gun in Outer Space
MAY 12, 2020
Here's What Would Happen if You Fired a Gun in Outer Space
Many of the world’s greatest science fiction films depict massive battles in outer space between starships and eve ...
MAY 31, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Another SpaceX Starship Prototype Explodes During Testing
MAY 31, 2020
Another SpaceX Starship Prototype Explodes During Testing
Incomplete Starship prototypes are a common sight if you follow SpaceX’s plethora of rocket-centric projects, but ...
JUL 07, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Should We Fly By Venus on the Way to Mars?
JUL 07, 2020
Should We Fly By Venus on the Way to Mars?
After landing on the Moon, heading to Mars became the next logical step for space exploration. Some suggest that flying ...
Loading Comments...