It’s a planet that, according to astronomers, likely never existed. Researchers said Monday that they have spotted a celestial body outside our solar system that is slightly larger than Neptune, orbiting a star similar to The sun every 19 hours It appears to be surrounded by metallic clouds made of titanium and silicate that reflect most of the incoming light back into space.
The astronomer said: “It’s a giant mirror in space.” James Jenkins From the University Diego Portales and the Center of Excellence in Astrophysics and Associated Technologies (CATA) in Chile, he is a co-author of the research published in the Journal of Astronomy and Astrophysics. It reflects about 80% of the light that it shines, making it the most reflective thing in the known universe. Venus, the brightest object in Earth’s night sky other than the moon, is the most reflective object in our solar system, surrounded by toxic clouds of sulfuric acid. Venus reflects around 75% from the incoming light. Earth reflects around 30%.
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The planet, called LTT9779B, and its star are located in our Milky Way galaxy at approx 264 light years away From the Earth towards the constellation of the Sculptor. A light year is the distance light travels in one year, 5.9 trillion miles (9.5 trillion km).
Planet diameter approx 4.7 times higher than Earth’s And it orbits very close to its star: closer than the distance of Mercury, the innermost planet in our solar system, and 60 times closer to Earth’s orbit.
With its star so close to the atmosphere, researchers say, it is surprising that it has an atmosphere. atmosphere with watery clouds, As on Earth, it was blown away by solar radiation long ago. But researchers believe its clouds are mineral, a mixture of titanium and silicates, the material that makes up most rocks in Earth’s crust.
We even think that clouds can condense into droplets and that they can fall into some parts of the atmosphere Titanium rainannounced the astronomer Jenkins.
The researchers studied the planet using orbital telescope CHEOPS from the European Space Agency.
“No other planet like this has been discovered so far,” said astronomer and lead author of the study Sergio Hoyer of the Marseille Astrophysical Laboratory in France. According to astronomer and study co-author Vivian Parmentier of the Côte d’Azur Observatory in France, having an atmosphere so close to its star makes it “a planet that shouldn’t exist.”
“The highly reflective cloud cover may have helped prevent the planet from becoming too hot and being stripped of its atmosphere,” Parmentier said. “that it A unique phenomenon“Because all the other planets are at this temperature which are large enough to keep their atmospheres too hot to form clouds, and are therefore dark as coal.”
It also appears to be attached to its star – like the Moon is to Earth – with a permanent day side facing the star and a permanent night side facing outward. All previously known planets orbiting their star in less than one Earth day were either “hot planets,” gas giants similar in composition to the largest planet in our solar system, but Hotter due to solar radiationor rocky planets smaller than Earth and without an atmosphere.
Researchers wonder if LTT9779b, which is classified as an “extremely hot Neptune,” originated as gas giant Then it loses most of its atmosphere, or whether it started at its current size.
more than has been discovered 5,000 planets outside our solar system, are called exoplanets, and many of them have very different characteristics than the eight planets in our solar system. With more capable instruments coming online — the James Webb Space Telescope was commissioned last year and the Very Large Telescope is under construction in Chile — more discoveries are expected. “The diversity of exoplanets is staggering, and we’ve barely scratched the surface,” Parmentier said.
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