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Discover the first alien planet destined to fall on its star – Space & Astronomy

The first alien planet has been discovered, destined to fall inexorably on its star with age: a lot of evidence for the existence of these exoplanets has already been collected, but direct observations have not yet been made. Confirmation came from a study published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters and led by the American Center for Astrophysics at Harvard-Smithsonian University. The end may be the same that awaits the Earth in billions of years, when the sun enters the final stage of its life cycle, and thus the discovery will help to better understand this phenomenon and its mechanisms.

The unfortunate planet is named Kepler-1658b, after its discovery was due to NASA’s Kepler space telescope, launched in 2009: it was the first candidate for observations made by the telescope, but it took nearly a decade to confirm its existence. Indeed, the ability to detect a planet’s approach to its star required many years of analysis, beginning with Kepler and then continuing with the Hale telescope at California’s Monte Palomar Observatory (run by the California Institute of Technology) and by NASA’s TESS space telescope, launched in 2018.

Kepler-1658b is a hot Jupiter that orbits close to its star in less than 4 days, at a distance not exceeding one-eighth that separates the Sun from Mercury. However, its inevitable fate is approaching at a very slow pace, with its orbit shrinking by about 131 milliseconds per year. The main reason for this phenomenon is tides: the gravitational interaction between two celestial bodies distorts each other’s shapes and causes the release of energy. Depending on the distances and dimensions of the bodies involved, this process can lead to a departure, as in the case of the Earth and the Moon, or to an approach, as in the case of an exoplanet.

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