Imagine being blasted by a hairdryer turned up to its hottest setting 24/7. That’s how Dr. Guy Davies from the University of Birmingham’s School of Physics and Astronomy describes what’s happening to a new class of extrasolar planets whose atmospheres have been stripped away by their host stars.
Astrophysicists from the university used data from the NASA Kepler space telescope to discover these planets, and published their research in Nature Communications.
According to their observations, extrasolar planets with gaseous atmospheres that live close to their host stars are constantly bombarded by a torrent of high-energy radiation. This results in a violent stripping of their outer “envelope.”
“Our results show that planets of a certain size that lie close to their stars are likely to have been much larger at the beginning of their lives,” says Davies. Scientists expect to discover many more of these ‘stripped systems’ using a new generation of satellites.
Just another reminder that the cosmos is an awfully violent place.