Astronomers Recently Discovered a Planet with a Tail and They Think That it’s Actually a Comet

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There’s no doubt that comets and planets are totally different things. Planets are powerful enough to support themselves in the Solar System; we can say that they have self-gravity capacity thanks to their round-ball shape. Comets, on the other hand, are irregular items made of rock and ice with a characteristic “tail” made of gas and they appear near the Sun.

So far, astronomers didn’t think that they could ever see a planet with a tail, but these days they were amazed by an unexpected finding. Scientists working at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) situated in the Canary Islands discovered a giant exoplanet that made them reconsider everything they knew so far.

WASP-69b dazzles astronomers, but it also gives them the hint to start deeper research

The comet-like planet is called WASP-69b. Its particularity is given by the strange tail made out of helium particles. Ever since it was discovered, it became study material for a research that had its results published in the Science journal on December 6th this year.

Lisa Nortman, a scientist working at IAC declared that this mysterious planet is the first celestial item which brings a helium tail in their attention. However, they knew that if helium particles are part of a planet, they could spread and form a comet-like tail. Now they finally got to see an actual image of this theory.

Scientists noticed that the helium particles from WASP-69b’s tail are forced by the ultraviolet radiation’s pressure to escape throughout the planet’s atmosphere. Thus, a tail is formed behind the planet. Other studies show that WASP-69b is situated at 163 light-years from the sun and it is almost as big Jupiter.

In this case, we are talking about a giant gas planet with a tail. The conclusion is that comets are not the only galactic items with tails; planets can have this addition too.

As our second lead editor, Anna C. Mackinno provides guidance on the stories Great Lakes Ledger reporters cover. She has been instrumental in making sure the content on the site is clear and accurate for our readers. If you see a particularly clever title, you can likely thank Anna. Anna received a BA and and MA from Fordham University.