(ORDO NEWS) — Astronomers have discovered an unprecedented type of object that revolves around a distant star – the coreless planet core TOI 849b. This discovery may reveal the secrets of giant gas planets such as Jupiter and Saturn.
Jupiter and Saturn have a solid planetary core under a thick shell of hydrogen and helium. So far, no one has been able to see what these cores look like. In an article published in the journal Nature, a team of astronomers says that she discovered the rocky “entrails” of a giant planet that lacks a dense atmosphere.
Scientists have discovered this strange object in the so-called “Neptune desert.” Over the past few years, astronomers have been actively exploring and discovering exoplanets similar to Earth in size. So, three years ago, working with the Kepler space telescope, researchers divided small exoplanets into two groups – super-earths, whose mass exceeds the Earth’s no more than 10 times, and mini-neptunes, their mass is ten times larger than the Earth. These two types are very different from each other, the first are like enlarged copies of our planet, and the second is the worlds-oceans or “dwarf” gas giants. The celestial bodies that are in the so-called “gap” between these groups fall into the region of the “Neptune desert”.
Working with the TESS telescope, scientists noticed the strange object TOI 849b. The fact is that its radius was about 3.5 times larger than that of the Earth, so astronomers decided that this was a typical mininoptun. However, having studied the object more carefully using the HARPS spectroscope, the researchers found that the TOI 849b is about 39 times heavier than the Earth, which means it cannot be a gas or ocean planet.
That is how scientists came to the conclusion that in front of them was a core without any shell. Astronomers suggest that the gas giant could lose it as a result of interactions with a stellar one, a collision with another planet, or it simply did not manage to form its outer layer.
“The planet TOI 849b is a heavy earth-like world whose density is equivalent to the density of our planet. We assume that initially it was similar to Jupiter, it was covered with a large amount of helium and hydrogen. Their absence indicates that we are dealing with the bare core of the planet, ”said David Armstrong, one of the authors of the study.
Now that scientists know that the existence of such objects is possible, they can test ideas about how giant gas planets are evolving.
“For the first time, we came across evidence that such planets exist and can be found. We have the opportunity to look at the core of the planet in a way that we cannot do in our own solar system, ”comment the authors of the work.
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