Star Pulling Massive Planet Apart with X-Rays
Danika Wilkinson
at 00:00 AM Sep 14 2011
Ouch. That looks painful.
CXC/M. Weiss

Imagine if Earth was being blasted by radiation so strong that it was disappearing at a rate of 5 million tonnes per second. Sounds pretty disastrous, right? Well spare a thought for poor old CoRoT-2b, whose companion star is bombarding it with x-rays a hundred thousand times more powerful than rays from our Sun, Science Daily reports.

The planet is a close neighbour of our solar system - a relatively tiny 880 light years  - and orbits its sun at a distance about ten times the distance between Earth and the Moon.

"This planet is being absolutely fried by its star. What may be even stranger is that this planet may be affecting the behavior of the star that is blasting it,"  said Sebastian Schroeter, one of the authors of the study, who works at the University of Hamburg in Germany.

The planet has a mass three times the size of Jupiter - and roughly a thousand times larger than Earth.

But astronomers have uncovered an odd peculiarity - the planet, much like a balloon, is unusually inflated. 

Schroeter told Science Daily the bloating may be a result of extreme X-ray exposure.

"We are just beginning to learn about what happens to exoplanets in these extreme environments."

The results were published in the August issue of Astronomy and Astrophysics by a team of researchers from the University of Hamburg.



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