Evaporating Planet is on “Hiccups” Under Hubble’s Nose

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Buckle up, virtual space travelers, for a cosmic drama of epic proportions! It’s time to meet the cantankerous red dwarf star, AU Microscopii, and its rowdy sidekick, the baby planet called AU Microscopii b. This fiery duo is positioned just 32 light-years away from us, making their chaotic tango a spectacle in the cosmic neighborhood, according to SciTechDaily.

AU Microscopii isn’t your average run-of-the-mill star; it’s like the Sun’s rebellious little sibling, shooting super-flares that make our star look like a mere sparkler on a birthday cake! And let’s not forget the scorching ultraviolet radiation that’s hot enough to burn up anyone caught unprepared. Seriously, bring “Sunscreen 5,000” or prepare to sizzle!

Poor AU Microscopii b doesn’t have it easy either. Orbiting 6 million miles away from its temperamental parent star, the planet is trapped in a tumultuous dance. Its hydrogen-rich atmosphere gets mercilessly stripped away like a cosmic magician pulling tricks out of a hat. But wait, there’s more! This star-planet tango is full of surprises. Sometimes, the planet looks like it’s shedding its atmosphere similar to a molting bird, while other times, it seems to hold on to its hydrogen cloak, such as a cosmic fashionista.

Hubble Space Telescope has a front-row seat to this dangerous show, and each orbit brings a new twist to the tale.

Keighley Rockcliffe, a scientist from Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, explained, as SciTechDaily quotes:

This frankly strange observation is kind of a stress-test case for the modeling and the physics about planetary evolution. This observation is so cool because we’re getting to probe this interplay between the star and the planet that is really at the most extreme.

Despite the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) being fully operational since December 2021, Hubble is still eager to prove that it has a strong word to say in astronomy. And despite being over three decades into Earth’s orbit, Hubble is still doing an impressive job.

The new study was published in The Astronomical Journal.

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