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News Release Archive:

News Release 200 of 954

May 20, 2010 09:00 AM (EDT)

News Release Number: STScI-2010-15

Hubble Finds Star Eating a Planet

May 20, 2010: "The Star That Ate My Planet" may sound like a B-grade science fiction movie title, but this is really happening 600 light-years away. Like a moth in a candle flame, a doomed Jupiter-sized planet has moved so close to its sunlike parent star that it is spilling its atmosphere onto the star. This happens because the planet gets so hot that its atmosphere puffs up to the point where the star's gravity pulls it in. The planet will likely be completely devoured in 10 million years. Observations by Hubble's new Cosmic Origins Spectrograph measured a variety of elements in the planet's bloated atmosphere as the planet passed in front of its star. The planet, called WASP-12b, is the hottest known world ever discovered, with an atmosphere seething at 2,800 degrees Fahrenheit.

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Artwork Credit: NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon (STScI)

Science Credit: NASA, ESA, and C. Haswell (The Open University, UK)