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NASA Scientists Discovered Planets with the Shortest Ever Orbit

Oct 16, 2013 10:22 IST

Brian Jackson of the Carnegie Institution for Science's Department of Terrestrial Magnetism in the findings based on data from NASA's Kepler mission, at the American Astronomical Society's Division of Planetary Sciences meeting revealed that the scientists discovered six new planets with super-fast orbits. These plants have orbits that are as short as four hours.

The newly discovered planets are very close to their host stars. Discovery of the new planets was a part of the planet-hunting survey, which also revealed that in case the discovery is absolutely confirmed, it would be among the closest planets to their stars discovered as of now.

It is important to note that the most gas giant exoplanets with orbital periods less than or equal to a few days are not stable at all. This happens because of decay in their orbits which is caused because of the effects of the proximity of their star. In case of the icy or rocky planets, the disruption can bring them so near to star that the force of their own gravity can compel them not to hold together in context with the star's gravity. It was because of this reason that the scientists conducted the search for very short-period transiting planets in the dataset of Kepler.

The preliminary survey revealed about six planets, all of which have the periods less than 12 hours. Even though, they have the masses of just few times than the Earth, but their short periods mean that they can be detected by making use of the currently operating ground-based facilities.

In the recent past, the scientists had discovered an Earth-sized exoplanet, named Kepler 78b. The Kepler 78b is 700 light-years away and moves around its host star in just 8.5 hours, which is one of the shortest orbital periods ever detected.

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