London, April 11 (IANS) Using data from NASA’s Kepler space telescope, astrophysicists from the University of Birmingham have discovered extra-solar planets whose atmospheres have been stripped away by their host stars.
According to them, planets with gaseous atmospheres that lie very close to their host stars are bombarded by a torrent of high-energy radiation.
Due to their proximity to the star, the heat that the planets suffer means that their “envelopes” have been blown away by intense radiation.
This violent “stripping” occurs in planets that are made up of a rocky core with a gaseous outer layer.
“The results show that planets of a certain size that lie close to their stars are likely to have been much larger at the beginning of their lives. Those planets will have looked very different,” said Dr Guy Davies from the University of Birmingham’s school of physics and astronomy.
The findings have important implications for understanding how stellar systems, like our own solar system, and their planets, evolve over time and the crucial role played by the host star.
Scientists expect to discover many such “stripped systems” using a new generation of satellites including the NASA TESS Mission which will be launched next year.
The paper was published in the journal Nature Communications.