New observations by the Hubble Space Telescope's Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS), confirm the existence of a giant scorched extrasolar planet traveling extremely close to its star. Named HD 209458b, it's being called by astronomers a "cometary planet" because it has the components of a planet - but with a trailing tail like a comet, possibly the result of strong stellar winds sweeping off its super heated atmosphere.
Eric Smith: "Mass is being stripped of at the rate of about 100,000 cars per second. So, a typical big car plant on the Earth might make 100, 200, 300-thousand cars a year. That's how many they're making. This planet's losing that much mass per second."
HD 209458B is 153 light years from Earth, weighs slightly less than Jupiter, and speeds around its star in about 3 and1/12 days, which means one of our weeks is equal to two of its years.
Eric Smith: "Up to just recently in human history we've only known about the planets in our own solar system, and can study those and so we developed theories about how stars and planets formed based upon that. Now, there is just this incredible diversity of planet types, different stellar types, different orbits, and it's causing us to have to rethink entirely how we believe stars and planets formed."
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