Astronomers Find a Planet Denser Than Lead

Posted on October 7, 2008  Comments (1)

Astronomers find a planet denser than lead

Meet the planet COROT-exo-3b. It orbits a star slightly larger, hotter, and brighter than the Sun. The star is not an unusual one in any way, but the planet is definitely weird: it orbits the star in just over 4 days, which is pretty close in, though not a record breaker in and of itself. What’s bizarre is that it has about the same diameter of Jupiter, but has 21.6 times Jupiter’s mass. That makes it denser than lead.

This planet is challenging to models. How did it form? It most likely formed farther out from the star — gravitational influences make it hard for a large planet to form close to a star — and then gradually moved in.

It was discovered by COROT, an orbiting European Space Agency mission designed to look for stars that dip in brightness as an orbiting planet passes in front of them. That gives the size of the planet (the amount the light dims is proportional to the size of the planet).

As a planet (the alternative is classifying it as a brown dwarf – a failed star, not a planet), COROT-exo-3b would be the densest known planet.

Related: COROT discovery stirs exoplanet classification rethinkPlanet, Less Dense Than Cork, Is DiscoveredHot Ice PlanetPhysics May Need a Revision

One Response to “Astronomers Find a Planet Denser Than Lead”

  1. Milky Way May Have 100,000 Times More Nomad Planets Than Stars » Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog
    February 26th, 2012 @ 6:50 am

    […] full press release – Astronomers Find a Planet Denser Than Lead – Hot Ice Planet – NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover – Planet, Less Dense Than Cork, […]

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