Astronomers have identified a new "hot Jupiter" planet that is so hot it's prone to meltdowns of the entire planet, tearing apart the molecules in their atmosphere. It is the hottest planet astronomers have found to date.
Named KELT-9b, the planet is one of several types of planets that orbit around stars.
The planet is close to three times the mass of Jupiter and orbits 670 light-yers away. The temperature on the surface gets to 7,800 degrees Fahrenheit, which NASA said is hotter than some of the stars in the galaxy.
Planet has a dayside and nightside
"This kind of planet is so extreme in temperature, it is a bit separate from a lot of other exoplanets," said Megan Mansfield, a graduate student at the University of Chicago and lead author of a new paper revealing these findings in a press release announcing the results. "There are some other hot Jupiters and ultra-hot Jupiters that are not quite as hot but still warm enough that this effect should be taking place."
Using NASA's Spitzer telescope the astronomers found evidence that it is so hot that molecules of hydrogen gas likely get ripped apart on the dayside of the planet and are unable to reform until the atoms make it to the nightside of the planet. The nightside is still extremely hot but not so much as it prevents the gas molecules to reform.
NASA's Spizter telescope enables deeper observations
The Spitzer telescope can measure subtle variations in heat and repeated over a slew of hours, the observations enable Spitzer to capture changes in the atmosphere. That enabled the team of astronomers to capture the dayside and nightside of the planet.
KELT-9b is now categorized as an uninhabitable world. It was first detected in 2017 using the Kilodegree Extremely Little Telescope (KELT) system. The findings were published in Astrophysical Journal Letters.