Astronomers Find First Exoplanet with Peculiar Shape – More Like a Rugby Ball Rather Than a Sphere

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Let’s face it: the Universe is big. Very big. Unfathomably big. Bigger than any of us would even dare to think. Astronomers tell us that there are more known stars in the Universe than there are grains of sand on all beaches from Earth.

Therefore, neither of us should be surprised if astronomers find something, anything that they were not expecting. However, astronomy never ceases to amaze us all, and that’s wonderful!

The WASP-103b exoplanet enters the scene

According to, the Cheops mission of the European Space Agency has found the peculiar traits of the WASP-103b exoplanet. The cosmic object has a peculiar shape that makes it resemble a rugby ball.

The exoplanet can be found in the Hercules constellation, which is located roughly 35 light-years away from Earth. The host star is known as WASP-103. The reason for the unusual shape is represented by strong tidal forces that manifested between the planet itself and its host star.

Jacques Laskar of Paris Observatory, Université Paris Sciences et Lettres, and also a co-author of the research, declared as quoted by

It’s incredible that Cheops was actually able to reveal this tiny deformation,

This is the first time such analysis has been made, and we can hope that observing over a longer time interval will strengthen this observation and lead to better knowledge of the planet’s internal structure.

Susana Barros from Instituto de Astrofísica e Ciências do Espaço and University of Porto, Portugal, and the lead author of the new study, explains as quoted by

The resistance of a material to being deformed depends on its composition,

For example, here on Earth we have tides due to the Moon and the Sun but we can only see tides in the oceans. The rocky part doesn’t move that much. By measuring how much the planet is deformed we can tell how much of it is rocky, gaseous or water.

With the discovery of the WASP-103b exoplanet, it was the first time astronomers discovered a deformed planet that doesn’t resemble a sphere.