KELT-9b, a planet more than twice the size of Jupiter, is nearly as hot as the sun, making it the hottest planet ever discovered.
KELT-9b is so hot because of its closeness to its massive host star, Time reported on a study published in Nature, an international science journal. Kelt-9b is located about 650 light years from Earth and reaches some 7,770 degrees Fahrenheit.
The sun has temperatures of up to 10,000 degrees while Venus, the hottest planet in the solar system, has surface temperatures of 882 degrees, according to the International Business Times. Stars are much hotter than planets.
The planet was discovered in 2014, and researchers found that it has an odd makeup that allows the gaseous giant to orbit its host star in only two days. KELT-9b orbits the poles of the star instead of the equator and it doesn’t spin on its axis.
KELT-9b even looks a bit like a comet with a glowing tail. Researchers theorize that ultraviolet radiation bombards the side of the planet that always faces the star because of its orbit.
“KELT-9 radiates so much ultraviolet radiation that it may completely evaporate the planet,” said Keivan Stassun, a Vanderbilt researcher and one of the lead authors of the study. “Or, if gas giant planets like KELT-9b possess solid rocky cores as some theories suggest, the planet may be boiled down to a barren rock, like Mercury.”
The long-term prospects for the life of KELT-9b “are not looking good,” according to Stassun. It could develop into a red giant star in about a billion years.
The hot temperatures reveal that water, carbon dioxide, and other molecules will never take form. The density of KELT-9b is only half of Jupiter’s because the extreme radiation has bloated its atmosphere.
KELT-9b meets the typical definition of a planet, “but its atmosphere is almost certainly unlike any other planet we’ve ever seen just because of the temperature of its day side,” said study co-director Scott Gaudi, professor of astronomy at Ohio State University.
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