Distant, massive planet spirals toward a fiery death into its sun

por | Marzo 25, 2017

A huge, Jupiter-sized planet some 1,300 light-years away is getting too close to its sun and faces certain destruction, according to a new study.

The planet, dubbed KELT-16b, started its “death spiral” more than 2 billion years ago, and has just a few hundred thousand years of life left before it’s “torn apart,” Space.com reported.

The planet is a “hot Jupiter,” a type of gas giant that circles its star closer than Mercury orbits our sun, TechTimes said. It’s so close that it completes its orbit around its star in less than one day.

Because of its proximity to its star, the planet probably experiences extreme heat and powerful tides, and those tidal forces may tear it apart in about 550,000 years, TechTimes reports.

That isn’t long in astronomical terms, NorthboundNews reports. Billions of years ago, the planet was much farther away from its star, perhaps by some 4.6 billion miles. It’s now less than 2 million miles from its star.

There are two stars in that system, which has likely fouled up the planet’s orbit and pushed it into the eventual collision course.

“Most if not all hot Jupiters are likely to end up being tidally disrupted,” astronomer Keivan Stassun, study co-author and a researcher at Vanderbilt University, told Space.com. He said the planet’s destruction by tidal forces is “imminent.”

The study appeared in the Astronomical Journal.

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