In 2017, a team of researchers reported the discovery of a new exoplanet. This gas giant, dubbed WASP-107b, orbits an orange dwarf that is 211 light years from Earth, in the constellation Virgo. A new study recently emerged about it.
According to researchers at the University of Montreal, Canada, WASP-107b may well change our understanding of the process of planetary formation. According to them, the heart of this exoplanet would be lighter than what the experts had expected. However, the formation of this kind of gaseous planet requires a solid core of high density.
This discovery could indicate that gas giants such as Jupiter and Saturn could form more easily than previously thought.
A super-cloudy planet
The researchers indicated that WASP-107b has "one of the lowest apparent densities of all the extrasolar planets discovered." "In terms of its mass, they said it was 10 times less massive than Jupiter. Given the low density of its solid core, they suggested that more than 85% of its mass came from its gaseous envelope.
As a result, WASP-107b has been touted as "a super-cloudy super-Neptune." These characteristics intrigued the researchers.
“We had a lot of questions about the exoplanet WASP-107b. How did a planet of such low density come to be formed? And how did she keep her huge layer of gas from escaping, especially considering how close her star is? This motivated us to do an in-depth analysis to find out the history of her training, ” explains Caroline Piaulet, from the University of Montreal.
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What about the formation of WASP-107-b?
WASP-107b challenged researchers' beliefs about planetary formation. This exoplanet has become “a challenge for the formation of planets because it houses a large envelope, but currently rotates only 0.06 astronomical units from its star. "Despite this aspect, Professor Eve Lee, McGill University, was able to issue a first hypothesis on the origin of the gas giant.
“For WASP-107b, the most plausible scenario is that the planet formed far from the star, where the gas in the disk is cold enough for accretion to occur very quickly. The planet was then able to migrate to its current position through interactions either with the disk or with other planets in the system. "
This theory is yet to be verified. In 2021, researchers hope using the James-Webb Space Telescope will help them learn more about WASP-107b.