A team led by NASA discovered evidence of a planet so weird they can’t actually explain. Scientists are now baffled by this appalling planet.
They call it WASP-18b and it lies some 325 light-years away. This monster planet is 10 times more massive than Jupiter.
The eerie planet has a suffocate atmosphere filled with carbon monoxide and devoid of water. So, life as we know it is impossible to exist.
Radiation also bombards the planet because it orbits very close to its parent star. The planet orbits its star once every 23 hours.
“The composition of WASP-18b defies all expectations,” said Kyle Sheppard of Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Center, lead author of the paper published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters. “We don’t know of any other extrasolar planet where carbon monoxide so completely dominates the upper atmosphere.”
This planet is so different from what astronomers have found before. So, the new discovery could change the books.
“This rare combination of factors opens a new window into our understanding of physical and chemical processes in exoplanetary atmospheres,” said Nikku Madhusudhan from the University of Cambridge.
WASP-18b belongs to a class of planets astronomers call “hot-Jupiters”
Observations suggest this planet may contain 300 times more metals than other exoplanets of similar mass. And if that’s true, this monster planet clearly formed differently from Jupiter.
However, the launch of James Webb Telescope will really help us in further studies.
“The expected launch of the James Webb Space Telescope and other future space-based observatories will give us the opportunity to follow up with even more powerful instruments and to continue exploring the amazing array of exoplanets out there,” said Avi Mandell, an exoplanet scientist at Goddard and second author of the paper.
Thumbnail image: Artist’s rendering of WASP-18b. Credit: NASA/GSFC