Small Planets Dived Into Their Sun, And Survived. Boss Mode!

Often I think of only Kal-El being able to dive into Sol and emerge victorious. Apparently that shit ain’t true. Tiny charred-as-Vader’s-dome-piece planets have done the exactly  same  thing. Flex on, Planets. You deserve it.


Just days after  the first Earth-sized exoplanets  were discovered, we find two more planets that are even smaller – but they weren’t always like that. These pint-sized worlds are remnants of gas giants, the lone survivors of a dead star.

The star KIC 05807616 was once much like our own Sun. Not big enough to go supernova, the star started expanding outwards once its fuel ran out, ballooning up into a red gent as much as a hundred times its original diameter. This fate awaits the Sun five billion years from now, and its final expansion will almost certainly vaporize Mercury, Venus, Earth, and possibly Mars. Nothing should be able to survive this sort of extreme stellar blast furnace.

At least, that’s what astronomers always assumed. But an international team of astronomers have actually detected two planets in very close orbits around KIC 05807616. These planets, known as KOI 55.01 and KOI 55.02, are even smaller than those discovered around Kepler-20, clocking in at just 76% and 87% the size of Earth. The two planets have a couple of the closest orbits around a star we’ve ever seen, at just 5.76 and 8.23 hours, or 0.016 and 0.02 times the distance Mercury orbits our Sun. That makes their average temperatures around 16,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

What’s remarkable is that KIC 05807616 has already shed its outer envelope of stellar material, meaning it’s now much smaller than it was during its period of red giant expansion. Considering how close KOI 55.01 and KOI 55.02 are to the star, that means they must have once been  insidethe expanding red giant…and yet, somehow, they survived being vaporized. This is the first time we’ve seen any indication a planet can survive being inside a red giant.

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Shit the objects in the Cosmos can pull off never ceases to amaze me.