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Researchers discover exoplanet with the density of cotton candy

Researchers discovered an exoplanet named Wasp-193b that has a density so low that it resembles a Cotton Candy . The team needed to use several telescopes to prove that the mass and size of that body were really correct. This is the second lowest density discovered to date, behind only Kepler-51d.

The planet orbits a Sun-like star, located 1,200 light-years from Earth. It was identified that its density is 0.059 g/c³, while Jupiter's is 1.33 g/cm³ and Earth's is 5.51 g/cm³. “The reason it resembles cotton candy is because they are both practically air. The planet is super cute,” said Julien de Wit, professor at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and co-author of the study.

The investigation was carried out in collaboration between the University of Liège, in Belgium, MIT, in the United States, and the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia, in Spain. The results of the study were published in the journal Nature Astronomy on May 14th.

Astronomers discovered that Wasp-193b is composed mainly of hydrogen and helium, just like most other gas giants. The gases of this exoplanet inflate for tens of thousands of kilometers, which, according to them, no theory of planetary formation can yet answer.

“We don’t know where to fit this planet into the formation theories we have so far, as it is an anomaly, diverging from all of them. We cannot explain how this planet was formed”, commented Francisco Pozuelos, astronomer at the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia.

The next step in the research will be to take a closer look at Wasp-193b's atmosphere using tools such as NASA's James Webb telescope, to try to solve the mystery of the formation of this “cotton candy” planet.

Source: CNN Brasil

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