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Astronomers discover giant planet with 'marshmallow'-like fluffy density

The planet is about 580 light-years away from Earth.
Artist impression of ultra fluffy gas giant planet orbiting a re
Posted at 8:39 PM, Nov 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-02 22:39:05-04

Astronomers say they've discovered a strange exoplanet with a marshmallow-like density that appears to float in space as if it's in a cosmic bathtub.

Space observers using the Kitt Peak National Observatory telescope in Arizona say they found the planet orbiting a cool red dwarf star.

Experts used the WIYN 3.5-meter Telescope at the observatory to find the Jupiter-sized planet which is located in the constellation of Auriga the Charioteer about 580 light-years away from Earth.

Its orbit around a red dwarf star is interesting, because these types of stars are the smallest and most dim of all of the main-sequence stars. Those are stars which convert hydrogen into helium in their core, steadily.

Shubham Kanodia, a researcher at Carnegie Institution for Science’s Earth and Planets Laboratory said, “Giant planets around red dwarf stars have traditionally been thought to be hard to form.”

And that's what makes this giant fluffy celestial body with a marshmallow-like density so interesting.

“So far this has only been looked at with small samples from Doppler surveys, which typically have found giant planets further away from these red dwarf stars. Until now we have not had a large enough sample of planets to find close-in gas planets in a robust manner,” Kanodia said.

The planet, now identified as TOI-3757 b, still has many unexplained mysteries that surround its discovery.

Astronomers believe that such a large planet has formed around a dim star because TOI-3757 b has a rocky core. It is a gas giant so it is thought to have began as a massive rocky planet, about ten times the mass of Earth.

The planet is thought to have developed more slowly than other gas giants.