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Astronomers have discovered that there are a number of ‘super puff’ planets in the Kepler 51 the star-system that are so close to it as cotton candy.
Using data from the Hubble Space Telescope, the researchers found, fewer than 15 of the other planets that are almost as big as Jupiter, but it has a very low density which is less than 100 times the gas giant’s mass, or less than 0.1 grams per cubic centimeter in volume.
“They’re very strange,” said the study’s lead author, Jessica, Libby Roberts, in a statement.
An artistic view of the Kepler-51 star system. (Credit: NASA/ESA/STScI)
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“This is an extreme example of what is so cool about exoplanets in general,” said Zachory Berta-Thompson, one of the study’s co-authors, said. “It gives us an opportunity to study worlds that are very different from our own, but it is also the location of the planets in our own solar system in a larger context.”
Of the three ‘super puff’ planets in the Kepler-51 system was in the “straight-up, in contrast to what we are learning in the undergraduate classroom,” Berta-Thompson is added to it.
In the Kepler-51 system, it is about 2,400 light years away from Earth and is estimated to be 500 million years old. The use of a light-year, which measures the distance in space is equal to 6 trillion miles.
With the help of Software, researchers have also tried to look at the planets’ environments, but it ran into trouble, as if the atmosphere was opaque, rather than transparent.
“It definitely sent us scrambling to come up with what could be going on here,” Libby Roberts continued. “We were expecting to find water, but we didn’t get to the signatures of each and every molecule.”
Kepler-51 planets in relation to the size of the planets in our solar system. (Credit: NASA/ESA/STScI)
Libby Roberts and the other scientists have a theory that they are likely to be composed mainly of hydrogen and helium, with the aid of computer simulations. It is also likely that it is covered by a thick cloud of methane,” and that is because they are thinking of Saturn’s moon, Titan.
“If you get methane, ultraviolet light, in the form of a haze,” Libby said Roberts. “It’s a Titan in a nutshell.” In June, NASA revealed it’s a mission that will study Titan, could host extraterrestrial life,.
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The researchers also found that they are losing gas, with the innermost of the three planets to be converted to an estimate in the tens of billions of tons of material into space every second.” Should this trend continue, this planet would be able to shrink substantially in the next few billion years, and it would wind up looking like a “mini-Neptune” extrasolar planet.
“People are really struggling to find out why this system is so different from any other system,” Libby said Roberts. “We’re trying to show that, in fact, it seems like some of these other systems as well.”
“A good part of their business is derived from the fact that they are at a stage in their development where we have the rare opportunity to observe the planets,” Berta-Thompson, agreed.
The study, which is set to be published in The Astronomical Journal and can be read here.
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