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Karlis

Planet ‘devoured in Secret’ By Its Own Sun

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A planet roughly 1.4 times the size of Jupiter is being consumed by its own star behind a shroud

thanks to a magnesium veil absorbing all of certain light wavelengths.

WASP-12 b, originally spotted in 2008, is a gas giant planet orbiting extremely close to its parent star. The distance between the star and planet is so small that the planet completes an orbit of its star in just over one Earth day. This proximity has "boiled off" a superheated gas cloud roughly three times the radius of Jupiter which feeds the star. However, some of this gas is moving out towards interstellar space, creating a shroud around the star.

The gas shroud is thin, and barely noticeable in optical light, but the new observations were made with HST using near-UV light. The team discovered that one element in the cloud is magnesium, which is extremely efficient at absorbing near-UV light. These wavelengths are extremely sensitive to the presence of tenuous gas, and in them the star can appear completely invisible.

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That's a big planet. Too bad its neighbor is doing it in.

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