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'Doomed' planet being devoured by parent star

WAPS-12 b may be completely devoured in 10 million years (Courtesy: NASA/ESA/G. Bacon)
WAPS-12 b may be completely devoured in 10 million years (Courtesy: NASA/ESA/G. Bacon)

Cheryl Santa Maria, staff writer

November 25, 2012 — A planet about 1.4 times the size of Jupiter is being consumed by its parent star.

WASP-12 b is the hottest known planet in the Milky Way and, according to NASA, it's inching closer and closer to an early demise.

The giant gas planet was first spotted in 2008, orbiting near its parent star.

The close proximity has super-heated the planet to nearly 2,800 degrees Fahrenheit and sent acloud of gas into outer space.

Some of that material has been captured by the star, creating a gas shroud around it.

Now, a team of researchers at UKs Wide Angle Search for Planets consortium have discovered that one of the compounds in the shroud is magnesium, which can absorb near-UV light, making the star appear to be invisible.

According to study lead Dr. Carole Haswell of The Open University, the phenomenon has never been seen before.

It's as though a veil has been drawn over the planet's demise, she said in a statement.

NASA predicts that the planet will be completely devoured in 10 million years' time.

The findings were published in The Astrophysical Journal last week.

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