Rugby ball-shaped Exoplanet discovered


Rugby shaped exoplanet: You must have read about Planets and exoplanets in space. When it comes to planets, these are typically round bodies in space that orbit stars.

But scientists have just discovered an exoplanet that is in the shape of a rugby ball. It has been deformed by its star’s gravity into a rugby ball-like body.

However weird it may sound but it is the first time scientists have ever seen something like this in the universe.

The exoplanet was detected by the ESA’s Cheops exoplanet-hunting mission; it orbits WASP-103 in the constellation Hercules.

How these exoplanets are found?

By measuring the light of stars and watching for telltale dips in luminosity, especially when a possible exoplanet passes between us and the star.

Rugby ball-shaped exoplanet

The dips that come at regular, precise intervals are very strong evidence of an exoplanet.

The exoplanet, WASP-103b, is a gas giant, about twice the size of Jupiter with 1.5 times its mass. WASP-103b is known as a hot Jupiter. These are gas giants that orbit extremely close to their stars.

Consequently, these exoplanets typically orbit their stars much faster than others. WASP-103b completes an orbit around its star in less than a day.

This is what puts it extremely close to WASP-103. It is so close that the gravity exerted on the planet is much greater than that exerted on the side facing away from the star.

This gravity difference is known as tidal force. It is stretching the exoplanet out of the typical spheroid shape, now a rugby ball.

How the astronomers came to know of this exoplanet’s deformation is due to its very rapid orbital period.

It gave them much idea to take measurements and observe the exoplanet transiting the star.

Also, the data they are seeing in the light curve of the star revealed the planet’s unusual shape.

Although, a majority of gas giant exoplanets scientists have identified reflect the setup of our own solar system.

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