JUL 05, 2020 3:35 PM PDT

Astronomers Spot Exposed Planetary Core for First Time

WRITTEN BY: Annie Lennon

For the first time, astronomers have spotted a planet with an exposed core. Known as TOI-849b, the finding could help us better understand how planets form and how they evolve.

TOI-849b was detected by NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), launched to orbit Earth in April 2018. So far, it has discovered over 50 planets outside of our solar system, alongside over 2000 yet-to-be-confirmed planetary-suspects. 

According to observations with TESS, TOI-849b, located in the orbit region known as the 'Neptunian desert', is extremely close to its host star- and thus able to complete one lap of it every 18 hours. At two to three times the size of Neptune, and at around 39 Earth masses, its surface temperature is an estimated 2,780 degrees Fahrenheit (or 1,530 degrees Celsius). 

"We would expect a planet this massive to have accreted large quantities of hydrogen and helium when it formed, growing into something similar to Jupiter. The fact that we don't see those gases lets us know this is an exposed planetary core," says David Armstrong, the lead author of the study reporting TOI-849b's exposed core. "This is the first time that we've discovered an intact exposed core of a gas giant around a star."

Why exactly TOI-849b's core is exposed is a mystery. One possibility is that the planet was a gas giant in the past but somehow lost its atmosphere. Due to the planet's orbital location, the researchers say that although its orbital location in proximity to its host star is intense, it's not enough to strip away a part of the gas giant's atmosphere. 

"I think the key clue is that TOI-849b lies in the Neptunian desert, which hints at a rare history. That suggests to me one of the more unusual or aggressive pathways, perhaps tidal disruption or an impact during the formation process, but we need more study to be sure." says Armstrong. 

 

Sources: Space.comScience News 

About the Author
  • Science writer with a keen interest in behavioral biology, consciousness medicine and technology. Her current focus is how the interplay of these fields can create meaningful interactions, products and environments.
You May Also Like
DEC 06, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Watching a Nebula Fade
DEC 06, 2020
Watching a Nebula Fade
Nebulas are vast clouds of dust and gas that are remnants of exploded stars or in other cases, nurseries for where stars ...
FEB 20, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Mars Perseverance Rover Gets Ready to Find Life on Mars
FEB 20, 2021
Mars Perseverance Rover Gets Ready to Find Life on Mars
NASA scientists have confirmed that their car-sized Perseverance Mars rover is 'healthy' following its arrival o ...
MAR 06, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Earth's Hot Neighbor Is the Stuff of Astronomers' Dreams
MAR 06, 2021
Earth's Hot Neighbor Is the Stuff of Astronomers' Dreams
This image by RenderArea is an artistic impression of the surface of a newly discovered, scorching hot, rocky, super-Ear ...
APR 08, 2021
Space & Astronomy
The Stardust That Made Us & Our Planet
APR 08, 2021
The Stardust That Made Us & Our Planet
You may know that the human body is made up of elements that almost all originated in stars, and many of those elements ...
MAY 07, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Did Scientists Just Find Mushrooms on Mars?
MAY 07, 2021
Did Scientists Just Find Mushrooms on Mars?
While experts agree that most life on Earth would not be able to survive on Mars, NASA researchers have previously sugge ...
JUN 08, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Astrophysicists Discover Origins of First Structures in Milky Way
JUN 08, 2021
Astrophysicists Discover Origins of First Structures in Milky Way
A team of scientists led by the Centre for Astrobiology have discovered that the bulges we see in disc galaxies formed i ...
Loading Comments...