21
May 10

Hubble finds star eating a planet

Source: HubbleSite


Artist's concept of the exoplanet WASP-12b.
Credit: NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon (STScI)

"The Star That Ate My Planet" may sound like a B-grade science fiction movie title, but this is really happening 600 light-years away. Like a moth in a candle flame, a doomed Jupiter-sized planet has moved so close to its sunlike parent star that it is spilling its atmosphere onto the star. This happens because the planet gets so hot that its atmosphere puffs up to the point where the star's gravity pulls it in. The planet will likely be completely devoured in 10 million years. Observations by Hubble's new Cosmic Origins Spectrograph measured a variety of elements in the planet's bloated atmosphere as the planet passed in front of its star. The planet, called WASP-12b, is the hottest known world ever discovered, with an atmosphere seething at 2,800 degrees Fahrenheit. (read more)

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21
May 10

Big Mystery: Jupiter Loses a Stripe

Source: NASA Science News

In a surprising development that has transformed the appearance of the solar system's largest planet, one of Jupiter's two main cloud belts has completely disappeared.


Jupiter before and after the disapearance of the South Equatorial Band.
Credit: Anthony Wesley

Known as the South Equatorial Belt (SEB), the brown cloudy band is twice as wide as Earth and more than twenty times as long. The loss of such an enormous "stripe" can be seen with ease halfway across the solar system. (read more)

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