Newly Discovered Planet 'Is a Very Hellish World'

TOI-1431b is 3 times the size of Jupiter and hotter
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 28, 2021 7:20 PM CDT
Newly Discovered Planet 'Is a Very Hellish World'
This 2018 composite image provided by NASA shows the central cyclone at Jupiter's north pole and the eight cyclones that encircle it. TOI-1431b is what astronomers call an ultra-hot Jupiter.   (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/ASI/INAF/JIRAM via AP)

Being 490 light-years from Earth, a newly discovered planet would be difficult to get to. That's just as well. "This is a very hellish world," an astrophysicist said. That's because, the team that pinpointed it found, TOI-1431b is inhospitably hot—hot enough to melt metal, hotter than molten lava, and almost as hot as the exhaust of a rocket engine. "No life could survive in its atmosphere," said Brett Addison, who led the team at the University of Southern Queensland's Centre for Astrophysics in Australia. It's three times the size of Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system, CNET reports. It's a find. "These types of exceptionally hot planets, known as ultra-hot Jupiters, are quite rare," Addison said.

The planet is unusual in other ways. It orbits in retrograde—in the opposite direction to its star, per Esquire. TOI-1431b is so close to its bright star, after migrating over time, that orbit takes 2½ days. That proximity is a reason for the temperatures, which are about 2700C during the day, cooling off to 2300C at night. The nighttime temperature is the second-highest ever recorded. "It's one of the hottest planets surveyed," Addison said. NASA, which worked with the Australian team, conducted data analysis that took months before the agency confirmed that it's a planet. "This discovery presents a great opportunity to study the atmospheres of these planets to understand how they form and migrate," Addison said in a news release. (More planets stories.)

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