UV Light Might Turn Gas Planets Into Rocky Cores, A Study On An Exoplanet Revealed

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WASP-69b is an exoplanet roughly the size of Jupiter, located at about 163 light-years from Earth. This distant world is of great significance for scientists as, because this planet is at only 4 million miles from its host star, its atmosphere is blasted into space by the host star. That phenomenon shed more light on planetary formation, and astronomers now think that too much UV light might turn gas planets into rocky cores.

WASP-69b exoplanet is a bizarre world. Because it’s very close to its sun, the exoplanet completed a full rotation around its host star in only 3.6 days. Besides, according to a new study, the UV light from the star is virtually blasting into space the exoplanet’s atmosphere. The helium particles from the planet’s atmosphere are thrown away with such a force that the WASP-69b’s gravitational pull cannot cope with it.

Being attached to the 3.5-meter telescope of the Calar Alto Observatory in Spain, the so-called CARMENES instrument allowed the researchers to identify specific chemical signatures in the atmosphere of WASP-69b.

UV Light Might Turn Gas Planets Into Rocky Cores

“We observed a stronger and longer lasting dimming of the starlight in a region of the spectrum where helium gas absorbs light. The longer duration of this absorption allows us to infer the presence of a tail,” said Lisa Nortmann from the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC), in the Canary Islands, and the leading author of the study.

Using the same instrument named CARMENES, the team of scientists observed similar situations in other exoplanets, but none of those other distant worlds presented the same powerful atmospheric outgassing such as WASP-69b.

According to the study’s preliminary results, UV light from host stars, if too much, might turn gas planets into rocky cores. However, the scientists admitted that further studies conducted with CARMENES would shed more light on this weird phenomenon.