Huge Exoplanet Circling Close to Home Star is Being Devoured

Six hundred light-years from Earth, a huge exoplanet circling close to its home star is slowly, inexorably being devoured.

WASP 12B orbits just 2 million miles from its star, which means the surface of the planet reaches temperatures over 2,800 Fahrenheit. The sun’s gravitational pull is stronger on the front surface of the planet than on the back, so the planet has been pulled into a football shape. If you were floating on the gaseous planet, and looking heavenward, the sun would take up nearly the entire sky, Wired News reports.

The planet orbits so close to its parent star that a year lasts just over one Earth day and it is superheated to nearly 1,600 degrees Celsius. Gravitational tidal forces make the interior so hot it greatly expands the planet's outer atmosphere.

This creates an exosphere that balloons to nearly three times Jupiter's radius, even though the planet's only 40 per cent bigger than Jupiter. The star's gravity is also distorting the planet's surface, stretching it into a football shape, ABC Online says.

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