Home Universe 15 Interesting WASP-12b Exoplanet Facts – It’s Getting Eaten By Its Star

15 Interesting WASP-12b Exoplanet Facts – It’s Getting Eaten By Its Star

by Sankalan Baidya
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artist's impression of WASP-12b exoplanet

Our universe is full of surprises. From black holes to supernovas, from diamond planets to planet of raining glass – there is absolutely no shortage of surprises for us. Here is another interesting surprise – the exoplanet known as WASP-12b. This planet is interesting because at this very moment as we speak of this planet, it is being eaten up gradually by its host star! Let us learn 15 interesting WASP-12b planet facts and learn what makes it so interesting.

Interesting WASP-12b Exoplanet Facts: 1-15

1. This exoplanet sits in our very own Milky Way Galaxy in a constellation known as Auriga and is located at a distance of 871 light years.

2. It orbits around our Sun-like star named WASP-12.

3. It is so close to its star that it takes little over 24 Earth hours to complete on revolution around the star.

4. Because of its sheer closeness and the extreme tidal forces it experiences because of its host star, WASP-12b exoplanet has a surface temperature of 2,200˚C. There is absolutely no doubt that it is not at all hospitable for humans or any known life form on our home orb.

5. The extreme tidal forces of the star distorts the planet, giving it an egg-like shape.

6. The exoplanet WASP-12b is 40 times as big as our Jupiter. Because of its size and its speed, the planet is often known as Very Fast Jupiter or Very Hot Jupiter. There are other exoplanets that have been classified as Very Hot Jupiters, for example – HD189733b.

7. Extreme heat and enormous tidal forces of the host star also causes the atmosphere of the planet to expand almost 3 times the radius of planet Jupiter in our solar system.

8. The worst part is that the planet is doomed! Hubble Space Telescope observed using an instrument known as Cosmic Origins Spectograph that WASP-12b is losing mass to its host star at an alarming rate.

9. Scientists at NASA estimate that WASP-12b has about 10 million years left before it is completely eaten up but its host star. This kind of matter exchange between cosmic objects is usually seen in binary star systems but this is the first planet to reveal this phenomenon so clearly.

10. Per year, WASP-12b is losing about 189 quadrillion tonnes of atmospheric mass to its star.

11. Close study of the planet has revealed that it is not only a gas giant but it is also very carbon-rich.

12. In fact, WASP-12b exoplanet has more carbon than oxygen. The carbon to oxygen ratio is nearly 1 compared to 0.54 for our Sun. Because of such high amounts of carbon, one of the researchers in the team that studied the carbon content of the planet stated that if the planet had rocks, they would be made of pure carbon like graphite or diamond.

13. The study on the carbon content of WASP-12b has been in a journal named Nature. According to the study, the carbon content is restricted within the atmosphere of the planet.

14. The planet was discovered on 1st of April, 2008. The methods used for discovery were planetary transit survey, radial velocity survey and orbital light variations.

15. The planet was discovered by UK’s Wide Area Search for Planets, also known as SuperWASP.

Sources: 1, 2, 3

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