• Keyshawn M

Newly discovered 'Football' planet captures attention of astronomers

While most people assume planets only come in a shape similar to a circle, the same can't be said for WASP-103b.

As humanity has scavenged the stars, researchers have recently found a lot of planets, some being odder than others. Some planets even rain glass, but researchers were stumped to find a planet conveniently shaped like a football.

WASP-103b is located around 1,225 light-years away from planet Earth, which is quite the large margin even for space terms! This planet's oddities don't even stop at its odd shape, since the planet itself is twice the size of Jupiter. This planet is also extremely close to its home star: to be exact, it's 50 times closer to its star than Earth is to our Sun.

The "Hot Jupiter" planet was initially discovered in 2014, but it was only until the satellite CHEOPS snapped a picture where astronomers were able to view this exo-planet's odd shape.

"It's incredible that we were able to do this — it's the first time such an analysis has been done," said Babatunde Akinsanmi, a researcher at the University of Geneva.

Researchers suspect the planet's unusual size is due to the planet's ocean tides, though this hasn't been confirmed yet. Earth functions in a similar way that our moon affects our planet's tides; however, since this planet is so close to its Sun, its tides are much more extreme. WASP-103b's sun in particular is also rather interesting, being 1.7 times larger than our Sun and 200 degrees hotter.

Astronomers are also left stumped due to how the planet is still even intact. Usually, in instances where the planet is too close to its star, it slowly gets smaller and smaller, getting consumed by its star; however, current measurements seem to say the opposite. WASP-103b is seemingly going away, rather than closer to its host star, which only adds to the large mystery of this planet.

Research still is being conducted on this planet's oddity, but astronomers are ecstatic at the learning possibilities this planet could entail.

#astronomy #space #science