This Exoplanet is Probably a Solid Ball of Metal

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What can explain a small planet denser than Earth that orbits its star in 7days? Atmospheric Stripping? Collisions? Or was it born this way?

that orbits its star in only 7.7 hours. There are almost 200 other USP planets in our 5000+ catalogue of exoplanets, so Gliese 367 b isn’t unique in that regard. But it’s an outlier in another way: it’s also an ultra-dense planet—almost twice as dense as Earth.“You could compare GJ 367 b to an Earth-like planet with its rocky mantle stripped away.”Tahay in TESS data from 2021.

TESS found Gliese 367 b in 2021 when it detected an extremely weak transit signal from the red dwarf star named. The signal was at the limits of TESS detection capability, so astronomers knew it was small, like Earth. Something extraordinary must’ve happened for the small planet to lose its mantle. “A catastrophic event could have stripped away its rocky mantle, leaving the dense core of the planet naked,” Goffo explained. Collisions between it and other still-forming protoplanets early in its life could’ve removed the planet’s outer layer.

G 367 b is in a very small class of exoplanets called super-Mercuries. Their composition is the same as Mercury, but they’re larger and denser. Mercury may have suffered the same fate that G 367 b may have suffered. It might have had more mantle and crust at one time, but impacts removed it. “Thanks to our intensive observations with the HARPS spectrograph we discovered the presence of two additional low-mass planets with orbital periods of 11.5 and 34 days, which reduce the number of possible scenarios that might have led to the formation of such a dense planet,” said co-author Davide Gandolfi, Professor at the University of Turin.

 

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