Star eruption likely caused distant planet’s atmosphere to evaporate

Jun 29, 2012
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Scientists have been studying an exoplanet dubbed HD 189733b as it passes in front of its parent star dubbed HD 189733A. The reason scientists and researchers are scrutinizing this planet and star pair with the Hubble space telescope is because the planet appears to have an atmosphere that is quickly evaporating. The planet and star were first discovered in 2010 and was observed again in 2011 following a large solar flare from the star.

The planet is Jupiter-sized and scientists say that the intense plume of gas coming from the planet as it passes in front of the parent star was triggered by a massive eruption on the surface of the star. Scientists say that there were noted changes in the atmosphere of the planet after was bombarded with intense x-ray radiation from a solar flare emanating from the host star.

Observations made in 2011 showed that the planet's atmosphere was evaporating and releasing strong bursts of gas at a rate of at least 984 tons per second. Scientists are studying the planet and its parent star to learn more about space weather outside our solar system. Planet HD 189733b is a gas giant that orbits extremely close to the parent star. The planet orbits at 1/30 of the distance between the Earth and the sun and is approximately the size of Jupiter. The parent star is slightly smaller and cooler than our Sun, yet the surface temperature on the alien world is believed to be about 1830°F due to its close orbit.

[via Space.com]


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