Academic journal article Science and Children

New Planet Is as Dense as Styrofoam

Academic journal article Science and Children

New Planet Is as Dense as Styrofoam

Article excerpt

Researchers have discovered a new planet orbiting a star 320 light years from Earth that has the density of styrofoam.

This "puffy planet" is 40% larger than Jupiter but only a fifth as massive, which makes it as dense as Styrofoam, says Joshua Pepper, lead author of the study. The planet, called KELT-11b, is an extreme version of a gas planet, like Jupiter or Saturn, but is orbiting very close to its host star in an orbit that lasts less than five days. The star, KELT-11, has started using up its nuclear fuel and is evolving into a red giant, so the planet will be engulfed by its star and not survive the next hundred million years.

KELT-11 is the brightest in the southern hemisphere known to host a transiting planet by more than a magnitude and the sixth brightest transit host discovered to date. Located in the southern sky, the "extraordinarily inflated" KELT-11b is the third-lowest density planet that has been discovered.

"We were very surprised by the amazingly low density of this planet," Pepper says. …

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