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article imageStar evaporating five million tons of planet's matter per second

By Andrew Moran     Sep 13, 2011 in Science
Huntsville - Data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope shows that a nearby star is blasting a neighboring planet with X-rays 100,000 times more intense than the Earth receives from our sun.
CoRoT-2b is an exoplanet that was first discovered in Dec. 2007. The gas giant has a mass that is three times that of Jupiter and 1,000 times that of Earth. It orbits CoRoT-2a at a distance that is only about three percent of the distance between the Earth and the sun. The outer part of its atmosphere bloats due to the intense heat from CoRoT-2a.
Observations from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope show that CoRoT-2b is facing devastation from its companion star, according to a news release.
According to the data, the exoplanet is receiving a bombardment of X-rays that are 100,000 times more intense than what we receive. The radiation is so strong that it is evaporating five million tons of matter per second.
“This planet is being absolutely fried by its star,” said University of Hamburg researcher, Sebastian Schroeter. “What may be even stranger is that this planet may be affecting the behavior of the star that is blasting it.”
University of Hamburg researcher Stefan Czesla says the data is showing that the planet is so close to the star that it could in fact be increasing the speed of the star’s rotation. “If it wasn't for the planet, this star might have left behind the volatility of its youth millions of years ago.”
The system is estimated to be between 100 million and 300 million years old, but the fully-formed star acts young due to its X-ray emission. Also, the planet is fully inflated in its position, which has surprised scientists.
Researchers confirm, though, that they are only learning about the extreme weather conditions on exoplanets now and that these instances will assist in their understanding.
Results from the research can be found in the August issue of Astronomy and Astrophysics.
More about CoRoT2b, Chandra Xray Observatory, NASA, European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telesco, Xrays
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