Astronomers have discovered a flying planet with a density as low as the density of a marshmallow.
The planet, called TOI-3757 b, is the most fragile of all known planets, and orbits a cold red dwarf star about 580 light-years from Earth in the constellation Auriga.
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The star has a diameter of 150,000 km, making it slightly larger than Jupiter, and orbits its host star once every three and a half days.
The research team calculated the average density of “TOI-3757b” and found it to be 0.27 grams per cube, which is equivalent to a quarter of the density of water, as the planet would float above water if placed in a large enough water basin.
It is known that red dwarf stars are the smallest and most faint type of main-sequence stars, and these main-sequence stars are distinguished by the fact that they convert hydrogen into helium in their core at a constant rate, and although these stars are less hot compared to the sun, they shine with strong glows. , so it is rare for planets to form around it.
In general, “it was believed that it would be difficult for giant planets to form around red dwarf stars,” said Shubham Kanaudia, a researcher at the Carnegie Institution for Science, who added that “until now, this has only been achieved through small samples from surveys.” “Doppler spectroscopy has usually found distant giant planets from these red dwarf stars, and so far we have not had a large enough sample of planets to conclusively find nearby gaseous planets.”
TOI-3757b is still surrounded by some mysteries that scientists will have to solve, the biggest of which is how the planet could have formed in the first place, especially with its low density.
One answer may be that the planet contains fewer heavy elements in its solid core than other gas giant planets, which may have delayed gas buildup and lowered the planet’s density.
The second factor may be that the planet’s slightly elliptical orbit produces a large excess of heat as it approaches its star, causing the planet’s atmosphere to swell.
“Potential future observations of this planet’s atmosphere using NASA’s new James Webb Space Telescope will contribute to shedding light on the Its bloated nature.”
In all cases, the research helps astronomers know the materials from which these planets were formed, how they were formed, and whether the rocky alien worlds that are likely to be habitable and capable of incubating forms of life.