NASA's Kepler Space Telescope discovers possibly evaporating planet

Astronomers using NASA's Kepler Space Telescope have discovered a planet that orbits so close to its parent star its surface may be evaporating. The planet's evaporating surface is believed to be leaving behind a trail similar to that of a comet's tail. The planet is 1500 light-years from Earth and is believed to be a super Mercury-size planet.

The scientists theorize that the planet will be completely vaporized within 200 million years at the current rate. The photograph you see here is an artist's rendering of what the planet might look like up close. The parent star is called KIC 12557548, and an unusual light pattern from star is what has tipped scientists to the existence of the planet.

The scientists believe that the planet is orbiting a star that is smaller and cooler than our Sun. The planet makes an orbit in less than 16 hours at a distance of only twice the diameter of the star. The planet surface temperature is estimated to be 3300°F. The planet is likely to be covered completely in oceans of lava according to scientists.

[via Clarksville Online]