NASA discovers exoplanet evaporating rapidly

In an amazing discovery, scientists have discovered a new exoplanet that is actually evaporating rapidly. NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have discovered an almost ‘hot Neptune’, superheated, gigantic, and incredibly rare exoplanets, which is believed to be so close to its star that it is actually evaporating away at a very fast speed.

NASA discovers exoplanet evaporating rapidly

The planet named GJ 3470b is located at a place called ‘Hot Neptune Desert’ around its host star. It is believed that there is a lack of such planets since they are entirely destroyed over time due to their proximity with the stars they orbit. GJ 3470b is expected to be the next one to vanish.

As per BGR, GJ 3470b’s fellow planet GJ 436b is also believed to be losing its atmosphere as its star strips it away. However, though 436b is expected to survive without being entirely destroyed, 3470b is being stripped of mass 100 times faster than the former one, thus it is possible that it would be completely evaporated soon.

As compared to our Solar System, these two fellow exoplanets are very close to their star – about 3.7 million miles away – being the reason for their evaporation. For comparison, both 436b and 3470b are only one-tenth the distance from their star than Mercury is from the Sun.

The star’s intense radiation heats the atmosphere to a point where it escapes the planet’s gravitational pull similar to an untethered hot air balloon. The escaping gas forms a giant cloud around the planet that dissipates into space, explained NASA.

“I think this is the first case where this is so dramatic in terms of planetary evolution. It’s one of the most extreme examples of a planet undergoing a major mass-loss over its lifetime,” said co-author of the work, Vincent Bourrier.