‘Super Fluffy’ Cotton Candy Planet Larger Than Jupiter Discovered by Astronomers

‘Super Fluffy’ Cotton Candy Planet Larger Than Jupiter Discovered by Astronomers

Astronomers have identified a planet as light and fluffy as cotton candy, although it is much larger than Jupiter, the gas giant of our solar system.

The scientists said WASP-193b is “basically super fluffy” because its density is remarkably low for its size.

It is believed to be mainly hydrogen and helium, according to a study published in Nature Astronomy.

WASP-193b is the second least dense planet discovered by astronomers, but it remains a mystery to experts due to its size, which is about 50% larger than Jupiter.

“The planet is basically super fluffy” because it’s made mostly of light gases rather than solids, according to lead author Khalid Barkaoui of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Additional observational work will need to be carried out before astronomers can answer all the questions posed by its “fluffy” existence.

Scientists said WASP-193b, which some experts believe is so light it could float on water, is ideal for studying planet formation and evolution.

The existence of exoplanets – those beyond our solar system – was confirmed last year, but it took more time and work to determine their consistency based on observations from ground-based telescopes.

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The planet is located outside our solar system, about 1,200 light years away – one light year is 5.8 trillion miles – and orbits a sun-like star.

It is thought that the heat from its nearby sun, around which it orbits every six days, could cause its atmosphere to swell.

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The emergence of the fluffy planet comes days after researchers revealed the existence of a “super-Earth” located in our galaxy, the Milky Way.

The rocky world, called 55 Cancri e or Janssen, is located about 41 light years from Earth and has a diameter about twice that of our planet.

Renyu Hu, of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and lead author of the study published in the journal Nature, said: “The atmosphere is likely rich in carbon dioxide or carbon monoxide, but may also contain other gases such as water vapor and sulfur dioxide.

“Current observations do not allow us to determine the exact composition of the atmosphere.”

The planet “cannot be habitable” because it is too hot to have liquid water, the scientists added.


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