Astronomers have just discovered the hottest gas giant ever. In fact, the planet is warmer than most stars and has a giant, glowing gas tail like a comet.
Astronomers have named this gas giant KELT-9b, and it orbits its star KELT-9, a system 650 light years from Earth.
This burning planet was found by astronomers from Ohio State and Vanderbilt universities with the Kilodegree Extremely Little Telescope(s) (KELT). It has the highest temperatures ever recorded on a planet—4,600 Kelvin (7,820°F), which is just 2,000°F cooler than our own sun.
The ultraviolet radiation from the star it orbits is so brutal. Thus, the planet may be evaporating away under the intense glare, producing a glowing gas tail.
How big is this planet?
This giant planet is about 2.8 times more massive than Jupiter. The extreme radiation from its host star has caused its atmosphere to puff up like a balloon. So, the gas giant has a density half as Jupiter’s.
During a press conference, on Monday afternoon at the 230th Meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Austin, Texas, Karen Collins of Vanderbilt University said: “We are very excited today to announce the discovery of KELT-9b … a gas giant planet hotter than most stars. And I want to emphasize that’s not a typo.”
The planet is tidally locked and because of this reason the same side always faces its parent star. Astronomers currently think that the night side is much cooler. That is due to the atmosphere’s poor ability to transfer heat from the broiling day side to the rest of the planet. But even still, that “cool” side is hot: “The night side would probably look like a red dwarf to our eyes,” Gaudi said at the press conference.
Researchers say KELT-9b is one of the more bizarre planets in the galaxy. The planets in our solar system, revolve around the sun on a nearly horizontal plane. Unlike other planets, KELT-9b orbits its star vertically, like an astronomical game of leapfrog. And it moves quickly. A year on KELT-9b takes just one-and-a half Earth-days.
However, the KELT survey focuses primarily on bright stars because the telescopes it uses are small.