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A Dense Sub-Neptune Challenges Formation Theories

7 Aug 2020, 17:36 UTC
A Dense Sub-Neptune Challenges Formation Theories
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

The exoplanet K2-25b, a young world in the Hyades cluster orbiting an M-dwarf star, raises intriguing questions. We’d like to know how it formed, for K2-25b is much more dense than we would expect for a world slightly smaller than Neptune. Planets in a range between Earth and Neptune seem to be common around other stars, although we have none in our Solar System unless we make an interesting discovery about putative Planet 9.
But let lead author Gudmundur Stefánsson (Princeton University) point out the unusual nature of K2-25b::
“The planet is dense for its size and age, in contrast to other young, sub-Neptune-sized planets that orbit close to their host star. Usually these worlds are observed to have low densities — and some even have extended evaporating atmospheres. K2-25b, with the measurements in hand, seems to have a dense core, either rocky or water-rich, with a thin envelope.”

Image: New detailed observations with NSF’s NOIRLab facilities reveal a young exoplanet, orbiting a young star in the Hyades cluster, that is unusually dense for its size and age. Slightly smaller than Neptune, K2-25b orbits an M-dwarf star — the most common type of star in the galaxy — in 3.5 ...

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