NASA Discovers ‘Fluffy’ Exoplanet That Has A Surprisingly Low Density

NASA Discovers ‘Fluffy’ Exoplanet That Has A Surprisingly Low Density
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While there are trillions of galaxies out there, and each of them has billions of stars, it’s only a matter of time before astronomers will discover more and more exoplanets. What’s amazing is that, until about three decades ago, it wasn’t entirely sure if planets beyond our own Solar System (aka exoplanets) even exist. 

But once the discovery of two exoplanets orbiting the pulsar PSR 1257+12 was set in stone, it became clear that the Universe must be teeming with other planets. It was also a matter of time until such cosmic objects began to amaze us through their properties. 

Meet the TOI-3757b exoplanet

According to a new study published in The Astronomical Journal, scientists discovered an exoplanet known as TOI-3757b, which is a gas giant that has a very low density. Astronomers compare it to a marshmallow. The exoplanet stands out as being the “fluffiest” planet revolving around a red dwarf star – it’s located 580 light-years away, orbiting the star known as Auriga, to be more precise.

If you’ve been reading the news and thinking of calling the bluff of the astronomers who claim that such a world exists, you’re in luck! The smoking gun was found by NASA’s TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite) telescope, as it uses a good old method to spot exoplanets: detecting the dips in light that the planet causes when it passes in front of a star.

Shubham Kanodia, a planetary astronomer at Carnegie Institution for Science’s Earth and Planets Laboratory, stated:

Giant planets around red dwarf stars have traditionally been thought to be hard to form,

So far this has only been looked at with small samples from Doppler surveys, which typically have found giant planets further away from these red dwarf stars. Until now we have not had a large enough sample of planets to find close-in gas planets in a robust manner.

NASA’s TESS telescope has the main role of looking for exoplanets revolving nearby bright stars.


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Cristian Antonescu

Even since he was a child, Cristian was staring curiously at the stars, wondering about the Universe and our place in it. Today he's seeing his dream come true by writing about the latest news in astronomy. Cristian is also glad to be covering health and other science topics, having significant experience in writing about such fields.

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