Astronomers just discovered a huge planet that’s hotter than most stars

kelt hot huge planet
Robert Hurt, NASA/JPL-Caltech
Astronomers have discovered a massive planet that is hotter than most known stars.

Dubbed KELT-9b, the planet’s features are strange, to say the least. It is nearly three times the size of Jupiter. It is a gas giant that is tidally locked to its host star, like the moon is to Earth. That means one of the planet’s sides is constantly pointed toward its sun, causing it to bask in temperatures over 7,800 Fahrenheit, only 2,000 degrees cooler than the surface of our sun. On top of that, the planet’s “year” — how often it orbits its star — is just about 1.5 Earth days long.

In fact, KELT-9b is so unusual, the researchers who discovered first thought their data was wrong.

“I thought it couldn’t be real,” Scott Gaudi, an astronomer at the Ohio State University, told Digital Trends. “We always joke with KELT that either we’ve discovered the most amazing planet ever — or it is a false positive. Turns out, in this case, it was real. Even after 22 years in astronomy, I’m still occasionally floored by what the universe reveals.”

KELT-9b isn’t the only giant in the neighborhood. It’s star, KELT-9, is almost twice as large and twice as hot as our sun, which makes it tough to even spot the planet. Astronomers first discovered KELT-9b when they noticed a fractional dip — about half of one percent — in the host star’s brightness.

KELT-9 contributes to most of the planet’s extremities. The star’s intense radiation has bloated KELT-9b’s atmosphere into a balloon while sizzling its surface. All this intensity comes at a cost. According to Keivan Stassun, an astronomer from Vanderbilt University who led the study with Gaudi, KELT-9b’s existence will be turbulent.

“The future for KELT-9b is likely to be quite interesting and dramatic,” he told Digital Trends. “The planet receives such an intensity of extreme ultraviolet radiation from the host star that its atmosphere is very likely being boiled away. By the time the star begins to die in a billion years, all that may be left of the planet is its rocky core, if it has one. And all of that before the planet almost certainly gets gobbled up by the star as it swells to become a red giant in its final days.”

The researchers published their findings this week in the journal Nature.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Folding canoes and ultra-fast water filters

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

White dwarf star unexpectedly emitting bright ‘supersoft’ X-rays

NASA's Chandra Observatory has discovered a white dwarf star which is emitting supersoft X-rays, calling into question the conventional wisdom about how X-rays are produced by dying stars.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘Twilight Zone’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Home Theater

The best movies on Netflix in December, from 'Buster Scruggs’ to endangered cats

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Emerging Tech

Sick of walking everywhere? Here are the best electric skateboards you can buy

Thanks for Kickstarter and Indiegogo, electric skateboards are carving a bigger niche than you might think. Whether you're into speed, mileage, or something a bit more stylish, here are the best electric skateboards on the market.
Emerging Tech

Hear the sounds of wind on Mars from InSight’s latest audio recording

NASA's InSight craft has captured the sound of the wind blowing on the surface of Mars. The audio file was picked up by the air pressure sensor and the seismometer which detected vibrations from the 10 to 15 mph winds in the area.
Features

Has Columbus, Ohio raised its IQ yet? A progress report from the mayor

Two years ago, the city of Columbus in Ohio received $40 million to pursue smart city initiatives. So, what’s happened since then? We spoke with its mayor, Andrew Ginther, to discuss progress and what’s ahead.
Emerging Tech

New experiment casts doubt on claims to have identified dark matter

A South Korean experiment called COSINE-100 has attempted to replicate the claims of dark matter observed by the Italian DAMA/LIBRA experiment, but has failed to replicate the observations.
Business

Amazon scouted airport locations for its cashier-free Amazon Go stores

Representatives of Amazon Go checkout-free retail stores connected with officials at Los Angeles and San Jose airports in June to discuss the possibility of cashier-free grab-and-go locations in busy terminals.
Emerging Tech

Full-fledged drone delivery service set to land in remote Canadian community

Some drone delivery operations seem rather crude in their execution, but Drone Delivery Canada is building a comprehensive platform that's aiming to take drone delivery to the next level.
Emerging Tech

It’s no flying car, but the e-scooter had a huge impact on city streets in 2018

Within just a year, electric scooters have fundamentally changed how we navigate cities. From San Francisco to Paris, commuters have a new option that’s more fun than mass transit, easier than a bike, and definitely not a car.
Emerging Tech

Intel wants its fleet of drones to monitor America’s aging, unsafe bridges

Intel has signed a deal to use its Falcon 8+ drones to carry out bridge inspections. The hope is that these drones will be useful in spotting potential problems before they become serious.
Emerging Tech

Transplanted pig hearts show promise in baboon trials. Are humans next?

Researchers in Germany have successfully transplanted modified pig hearts into baboons. The results take us one step closer to ending organ transplant waiting lists for good. Here's why.
Emerging Tech

An A.I. cracks the internet’s squiggly letter bot test in 0.5 seconds

How do you prove that you’re a human when communicating on the internet? The answer used to be by solving a CAPTCHA puzzle. But maybe not for too much longer. Here is the reason why.