by Staff Writers
New Haven CT (SPX) Apr 12, 2016
Even a super-Earth can fly too close to the sun, according to a new study. An international team of astronomers has found a new category of planets beyond our solar system whose atmosphere has been stripped bare by the radiation from their own sun. The findings appear in the journal Nature Communications.
"It is as though they are standing very close to a blow-dryer set at maximum speed and heat," said Yale astronomy professor Sarbani Basu, a co-author of the study. "All that is loose gets blown away. In this case it is the planet's atmosphere."
The study uses data from NASA's Kepler mission to look at super-Earths, which are planets outside our solar system with a mass foughly 2-10 times the mass of Earth. In particular, the researchers focused on super-Earths that receive more than 650 times the radiation from their host star that Earth receives from the Sun.
"This violent stripping occurs in planets that are made up of a rocky core with a gaseous outer layer," Basu said. "Due to the planets' proximity to the star, the heat that they suffer means that their envelopes have been blown away by the intense radiation."
The first author of the paper is Mia Lundkvist of Aarhus University in Denmark and Universitat Heidelberg. Co-authors of the study represent more than a dozen other institutions in the United States, Australia, Denmark, and Germany.
The researchers said they used asteroseismology - which uses the natural resonances of stars to reveal their properties and inner structures - to characterize the host stars and their planets to levels of accuracy not achieved previously for these planetary systems. This, in turn, allowed the researchers to characterize the sizes of the extra-solar planets precisely.
"Our results have important implications for understanding how stellar systems, like our own solar system, and their planets evolve over time and the crucial role that the host star plays in the evolution of a planetary system," Basu said.
"Hot Super-Earths Stripped by Their Host Stars," M. S. Lundkvist et al., 2016 April 11, Nature Communications
Lands Beyond Beyond - extra solar planets - news and science
Life Beyond Earth
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement|