In the past 20 years, scientists have been able to find planets beyond our solar system. A captivating new discovery of “hot Neptune” exoplanet that’s speedily evaporating perhaps gives a clue to what’s going on. Getting answers to this could help us better study how distant planets evolve and how they become a little more like ours.
So far the discoveries include lots of massive planets like Jupiter and “super-Earths”. Super-earths are the planets that have a diameter up to 1.5 times the diameter of Earth. There are few medium-size planets analogous to Uranus or Neptune. This space in the classification of distant planets is known as the hot Neptune desert.
A new report published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics specifics observations of GJ 3470b that’s vanishing hundred times faster than an earlier discovered shrinking planet of the same size. The report says that this justifies that planets can lose a substantial fraction of their mass. GJ 3470b, a hot Neptune is losing more of its mass when compared to another planet we have seen so far. It is predicted, half of the planet may be gone in only a few billion years from now.
A few billion years is a relatively lesser time in the context of the entire life cycle of a planet. As per the researchers, over a third of the planet’s mass may have vanished already. The planets that orbit very close to their stars are considered hotter. The outermost atmospheric layer of the planet is blown away by evaporation and hence transforming into smaller super-Earths. Larger planets like Jupiter, on the other hand, are denser and have a stronger gravity. This allows them to hold their atmospheres.
Co-author and University of Geneva professor David Ehrenreich stated that this could explain the discoveries of plenty of hot super-Earths.