Monday, May 4, 2015

Wrong-Sized Hat

Or technically, the wrong-sized planet for the cool dwarf star HATS-6, which is about 500 light-years from Earth.

The planet, which is called HATS-6b, is a large gas giant about the size of Jupiter -- even though it has a total mass about equal to Saturn, which is smaller. This means that it is not very dense at all, because even Saturn itself is less dense than water and would actually float if you could find an ocean big enough to hold it -- and the gas didn't collapse into liquid or disperse or something. It orbits its star about once every 3.3 days, meaning that every week for us is a bit more than two "years" on HATS-6b.

Most theories of planetary formation would predict that M-class dwarf stars like HATS-6 would not have giant planets, and certainly not ones that would orbit so close to the star itself. A scientist quoted in the story said that the planet probably formed at a greater distance than it is now and migrated in, but current theories don't allow for that either.

In essence, this "hat" holds a large ball of rather dispersed gas. I suggest we call it Biden.

No comments: