Evaporating Planet GJ 3470b Could Explain How Medium-Size Planets Form

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Scientists have been on focusing on the discovery of new planets more than ever. We live in an age where the future of our planet is uncertain, and finding another livable planet could be essential for our survival.

However, so far the searches led to some confusing results. Despite the fact that researchers spent years looking for planets beyond our solar systems, they were not able to find planets that were Earth-sized.

Explaining the mystery

Another interesting discovery, an exoplanet that is evaporation, could be the answer. The planet is also known as “hot Neptune” and understanding it could provide essential information for the scientists. So far, experts discovered just huge planets, as well as some smaller ones.

In order to understand why there are no medium-sized planets, scientist began to observe planet GJ 3470b, hot Neptune. Since this exoplanet appears to be evaporating, it is also decreasing surprisingly fast. In fact, it is 100 times faster compared to another planet which was previously discovered.

“This is the smoking gun that planets can lose a significant fraction of their entire mass. GJ 3470b is losing more of its mass than any other planet seen so far,” co-author and Johns Hopkins University physics professor David Sing declared. “In only a few billion years from now, half of the planet may be gone.”

The results were published in a report which was published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics on Thursday. According to scientists, a third of the planet’s mass might have already evaporated.  Since smaller planets, named Super-Earths, were discovered more often, this could be the reason why. Large planets closer to the stars evaporate away. “This could explain the abundance of hot super-Earths that have been discovered,” said co-author and University of Geneva professor David Ehrenreich.

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