Astronomers have discovered a new planet that looks like cotton candy

Planets that are outside our solar system are called exoplanets. Thanks to the existence of such powerful space telescopes as Hubble and James Webb, astronomers have already discovered about five thousand exoplanets, and this number is constantly increasing. For example, scientists recently learned that at a distance of 1232 light years from us there is an exoplanet WASP-193 b.It is very different from all its kind in that it is very large, and at the same time it has a very low density. At its core, it is a huge ball of cotton candy, which is located in the depths of the Universe. Since scientists have previously only seen a couple of such exoplanets, they cannot understand how such a planet could even exist. But this mystery may be revealed in the future, thanks to the largest telescope in the world.

Astronomers have discovered a new planet that looks like cotton candy. Exoplanet WASP-193 b as imagined by an artist. Image source: Photo.

Exoplanet WASP-193 b as imagined by an artist. Image source:

A new planet outside the solar system

The discovery of exoplanet WASP-193 b was reported by the authors of the scientific publication Science Alert. It orbits the star WASP-193, which is 1.1 times heavier and 1.2 times larger than the Sun. It completes one circle in 6.25 days—not a single planet in the solar system rotates so fast. In addition to this, the exoplanet is located very close to the star, which also surprises scientists.

Astronomers were able to learn about the features of the exoplanet WASP-193 b by observing changes in its shadow as it passed against the background of the star. According to their calculations, it is 1.46 times larger than Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system. At the same time, its mass is only 14% of the mass of Jupiter.

A new planet outside the Solar System. Exoplanet WASP-193 b from a slightly different angle. Image source: Photo.

Exoplanet WASP-193 b from a slightly different angle. Image source:

Based on this mass, scientists were able to determine the density of the exoplanet WASP-193 b – it does not exceed 0.059 grams per cubic centimeter. Cotton candy has approximately the same density, which is why scientists compared it with this sweetness. For comparison, Jupiter's density is 1.33 grams per cubic centimeter, and Earth's density is 5.51 grams per cubic centimeter.

Its extremely low density makes it real an anomaly among more than five thousand exoplanets discovered to date, scientists shared.

However, they admit that the exoplanet WASP-193 b is not the only one of its kind. Science also knows about the existence of the exoplanet Kepler-51d, which has an even lower density, but is very small in size. So exoplanet WASP-193 b surprises not so much with its low density, but rather with the ratio of low density and large size.

Read also:Why the existence of exoplanets can be a bad sign for humanity?


A new mystery of space

How planets with such low densities form is a big mystery to scientists. Over decades of research, many computer models have been created to recreate the formation of planets. But none of them can describe the formation of a planet like WASP-193 b. This is impossible, even if we assume that the exoplanet does not have a core.

Perhaps the exoplanet WASP-193 b is similar in structure to cotton candy because it is very close to the star WASP-193. But the age of this star is estimated at 6 billion years, and at high temperatures the exoplanet should have disappeared within millions of years. The more scientists think about a new planet for science, the more questions they have.

A new mystery of space. The James Webb telescope is capable of revealing many secrets of space. Image source: Photo.

The James Webb Telescope is capable of revealing many secrets of the cosmos. Image source:

The James Webb Telescope can help uncover the mysteries of the existence of exoplanet WASP-193 b. There is no doubt that he will make a great contribution to the study of a planet whose existence is difficult to believe. It is the most powerful and expensive space telescope in the world – it took 25 years to develop, given the date of the first sketches. Since its launch in 2021, many scientifically important discoveries have been made with its help. For example, a powerful telescope was able to discern the atmosphere of Saturn’s satellite, and also caught the light of the very first galaxies in the Universe.

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Thanks to powerful telescopes, scientists are able to discover more and more planets outside the solar system. For example, in 2022, my colleague Lyubov Sokovikova talked about an exoplanet that is burning all the time. And in 2023, my other colleague Andrei Zhukov spoke about another discovery – specialists from NASA discovered an exoplanet with a large amount of methane. Be sure to read these articles, you will learn a lot of new things!