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Scalding hot gas giant breaks heat records

KELT 9b’s temps soar higher than many stars

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11:00am, June 5, 2017
KELT 9b

SPACE SIZZLE  KELT 9b, the hottest known gas giant, is “pretty much something out of a science fiction novel,” says codiscoverer Scott Gaudi of Ohio State University.

The planet KELT 9b is so hot — hotter than many stars — that it shatters gas giant temperature records, researchers report online June 5 in Nature.

This Jupiter-like exoplanet revolves around a star just 650 light-years away, locked in an orbit that keeps one side always facing its star. With blistering temps hovering at about 4,300o Celsius, the atmosphere on KELT 9b’s dayside is over 700 degrees hotter than the previous record-holder — and hot enough that atoms cannot bind together to form molecules.

“It’s like a star-planet hybrid,” says Drake Deming, a planetary scientist at the University of Maryland in College Park who was not involved in the research. “A kind of object we’ve never seen before.”

KELT 9b also boasts an unusual orbit, travelling around the poles of its star, rather than the equator, once every 36 hours. And

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