A new planet has been discovered by astronomers, and the details regarding it are surprising scientists. It is a gas giant in close orbit around a star in the constellation Cygnus. Named KELT-9B, it is the hottest planet ever discovered, with estimated surface temperatures in the range of 7,800 degrees Fahrenheit, hotter than many stars.
The planet was discovered by scientists at Vanderbilt University and Ohio State. It takes this gas giant only about 1.5 earth days to orbit its star, and the researchers say it likely has a tail like a comet as it spins.
Scott Gaudy from the Ohio State University was the leader of the team that published the study.
“It’s a gas giant 2.8 times more massive than Jupiter but only half as dense,” he said upon the study’s release, “because the extreme radiation from its host star has caused its atmosphere to puff up like a balloon. And because it is tidally locked to its star ― as the Moon is to Earth ― the day side of the planet is perpetually bombarded by stellar radiation, and as a result is so hot that molecules, such as water, carbon dioxide and methane can’t form there.”
The original study appeared on the Ohio State web site. Their findings have excited scientists from all over the planet.
The team used the KELT (Kilodegree Extremely Little Telescope) built by Joshua Pepper, astronomer and assistant professor of physics at Lehigh University. The two part device located in Arizona and South Africa to observe the planet. They are both small, robotic telescopes that scan the night sky continuously, studying over 5 million stars.
When those robots detect a dimming of a star’s light over multiple observations, it gains special scrutiny to determine if it the dimming is caused by a planetary orbit. This technique has been used extensively over the last few decades to find thousands of exoplanets. This one just appears to be the hottest.