- Artist's impression depicts an exoplanet similar to the newly discovered WASP-18b. As seen from the planet, the host star spans an angle of more than 30° and hovers menacingly at a fixed position in the sky (C.Carreau/ESA/Nature).
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Suicidal planet on death spiral into star
Astronomers have found what appears to be a gigantic suicidal planet. The odd, fiery planet is so close to its star and so large that it is triggering tremendous plasma tides on the star. Those powerful tides are in turn warping the planet's zippy less-than-a-day orbit around its star. The result: an ever-closer tango of death, with the planet eventually spiraling into the star. It's a slow death. The planet WASP-18b has maybe a million years to live, said planet discoverer Coel Hellier, a professor of astrophysics at the Keele University in England. Hellier's report on the suicidal planet is in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature. More>>