At the start of a brand new year lasting 365 days, imagine living on a planet where the year only lasts 16 hours. Such is the case on exoplanet TOI-2109b, which astronomers say will get closer and closer to its star until the planet disappears.
Reported by Space.com, astronomers say this is now the shortest known orbit of a planet, and it is getting faster. TOI-2109b is an exoplanet, the size of which is comparable to Jupiter. Scientists call them “hot Jupiter“because they are built like Jupiter but orbit closer to their star. This planet is only 1.5 million miles from its star, while Mercury, the planet closest to our Sun, pales in comparison to 36 million miles.
TESS looks for breaks in darkness that mean planets are blocking their stars, which constitutes an orbit. In this case, darkness fell every 16 hours, alerting astronomers to the record-breaking orbit.
However, this exoplanet is five times as massive and a third larger than our Jupiter, and the star it orbits is twice the size of our sun. It is also the second hottest known exoplanet, with a temperature of 6,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
And its 16 hour year is accelerating. Scientists say the planet is getting closer to its star at a rate between 10 and 750 milliseconds per year. This means that the end of the planet is still at an estimated distance of 10 million years. Astronomers plan to report to the planet next spring to learn more about its possible demise.
The planet is 855 light years from Earth in the constellation Hercules. It was discovered thanks to NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), which has been orbiting the Earth since April 2018.
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