Fluffy “Cotton Candy” Planet Discovered

May 29, 2024

There’s a class of planets called puffy Jupiters, and it’s been a mystery for 15 years now as to what they are. And this is an extreme case of that class.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) postdoc Khalid Barkaoui, part of the team that discovered the “exoplanet” (a planet outside our solar system).

Why It Matters: “To find these giant objects with such a small density is really, really rare,” says Barkaoui of the large planet that has roughly the same density to cotton candy! The discovery of “WASP-193 b” (described as a “light and fluffy” planet) may add more information into how planets with such a low density form; Barkaoui explains, “The planet is so light that it’s difficult to think of an analogous, solid-state material. The reason why it’s close to cotton candy is because both are mostly made of light gases rather than solids. The planet is basically super fluffy.”

Read More: Cotton candy exoplanet is 2nd lightest planet ever found (Space.com)

Astronomers spot a giant planet that is as light as cotton candy (MIT News)

Image Credit: NASA

by Jenna Lee,