Massive Planet As Light And Fluffy As Cotton Candy Puzzles Scientists

The researchers also determined that the gas giant orbits its star, similar in size to our Sun, once every 6.2 days.

Massive Planet As Light And Fluffy As Cotton Candy Puzzles Scientists

Planet WASP-193b is located 1,181 light years from Earth, said NASA.

The universe is full of strange objects, like a planet that is 50 per cent bigger than Jupiter but light and fluffy as cotton candy. The bizarre planet, named WASP-193b, is the second-least dense exoplanet ever found, according to a paper published in the journal Nature Astronomy. It has a density of around 0.059 grams per cubic centimetre, or 3.68 pounds per cubic foot, the study mentions. These figures make WASP-193b seven times less dense than Jupiter and one per cent lesser than our planet.

"The planet is so light that it's difficult to think of an analogous, solid-state material. The reason why it's close to cotton candy is because both are pretty much air. The planet is basically super fluffy," study co-author Julien de Wit, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said in a statement.

The researchers also determined that the gas giant orbits its star, similar in size to our Sun, once every 6.2 days. And it is situated at a distance of around seven per cent the distance between the Earth and the Sun.

"WASP-193b is the second-least dense planet discovered to date, after Kepler-51d, which is much smaller," Newsweek quoted study co-author Khalid Barkaoui, an exoplanet researcher at the University of Liege's EXOTIC Laboratory in Belgium, as saying.

"Its extremely low density makes it a real anomaly among the more than 5,000 exoplanets discovered to date. This extremely-low-density cannot be reproduced by standard models of irradiated gas giants, even under the unrealistic assumption of a coreless structure," the expert further said.

Science Alert said the planet is thought to be up to six billion years old. "WASP-193b is a cosmic mystery. Solving it will require some more observational and theoretical work," said Barkaoui.

The scientists now plan to study the planet using James Webb Space Telescope, the most powerful telescope built by humans

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